ThereAreNoSunglasses

American Resistance To Empire

Montenegro sparks a turning point for NATO

Montenegro sparks a turning point for NATO

cctv

Editor: Li Kun 丨CCTV.com

 

By Han Xudong, professor at the Strategy Teaching and Research Office with the National Defense University PLA China

The Republic Of Montenegro has recently joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which introduces the first new member state since 2009 and also epitomizes NATO’s new round of expansion.

Finland may likely follow suit. NATO, led by the United States, has embarked on an expansion plan in Europe. The colossal military bloc is lobbying Georgia in south Caucasia area across the Ukraine. The US, United Kingdom and Georgia had already conducted joint military drills in Georgia.

There are certain traits to NATO’s expansion, which is looking to absorb new members, while adding to NATO’s cohesion. NATO continues to escalate the arms race with Russia to spark more European countries to fear national security threats that make them more likely to join NATO.

Such actions accelerate construction of stronger missile defense systems in Spain, Romania and Poland to safeguard each NATO country from missile attacks. Additionally NATO hopes to absorb non-European countries into its sphere.

NATO is the result of a cold war mentality and a military tool for the US to rival the former Soviet Union. After the cold war ended, NATO didn’t dissolve, but expanded and continued to assist Washington for global dominance.

With Montenegro joining, NATO is gaining greater influence in the Balkan region with the potential for more former Yugoslavian countries to join in.

Once that happens, NATO would have a powerful impact on the south Caucasus region, which can add to further influence over the Middle East, followed by escalating regional turmoil that may lead Asian countries to join NATO as well.

Washington may accelerate its global hegemonic strategy center to the Asia Pacific region. After the cold war, the strategic goal of the US is to capture global dominance with a hub to control Europe and Asia-Pacific.

Montenegro’s joining NATO would have more followers in Europe, which means NATO has growing defense strength and the US has stronger control over Europe. Subsequently, Washington can look for more dominance in the Asia-Pacific region.

NATO’s eastward expansion can embolden the US to restructure its strategic center, both of which are two essential strategic actions that would influence global security.

Han Xudong, professor at the Strategy Teaching and Research Office with the National Defense University PLA China

The post-Mullah Akhtar Mansoor scenario

The post-Mullah Akhtar Mansoor scenario

Pajhwok PASHTO

Sher Jan Takal

After the Death of Mullah Mansoor facing the new regional dynamics in Term Challenges of fighting against terrorism for USA War, NATO , Pakistan , India, Russia, Iran and China. Peace process with the COMPLEXITY About Taliban is widening after the death of Mullah Mansoor in a drone attack inside Pakistani territory along with a Pakistani passport. The drone attack took place in Baluchistan area near Iranian border, presumably he was returning from Iran. Later on officially Iran rejected the news and said that Mansoor was never visited Iran.

The cooperation between Tehran and slopes Covert Afghan Taliban under the Mansoor seemed to be Driven by threats posed by the emergence of the Islamic State in Afghanistan since early 2015.The emergence of ISIS in Afghanistan is the main reason for cooperation between Taliban and Iran. But Iran has also other strategic stakes in Afghanistan. Tehran is keen on keeping the Taliban from becoming a close ally of its regional archrival, Saudi Arabia.

Pakistan is once again facing serious questions and Televised from International and regional Stockholders for its cooperative role with those elements which are directly Posing threat to the World peace. Apparently Pakistan always shows himself a non-NATO and front-line ally in war against terrorism but the incidents all the time tell different story. Afghanistan incessantly lodge complains about Pakistan covert support with insurgent groups which Pakistan always denied. Pakistan on the Other Side forward counter argument detained Kabul for providing sanctuary to the TTP leaderships somewhere in border area Nuristan and Kunar provinces while also feel worry about the increasing Indian role.

President Obama hailed Mullah Mansoor death “an important milestone” and a “game changer”. One of the arguments which generally circulated in most of the media reports after Mansoor death that he was the most irreconcilable leader. But the Question is that will the next Ameer will be comfortable in the reconciliation.

Michael O’Hanlon of the Brookings Institution think-tank said Mansour’s death may only “modestly” help the US effort in Afghanistan. The war has been going on for so long, the Taliban has so many leaders and so much ability to function at the local level even without strong central guidance, that we would be well advised to keep expectations in check, he said.

There are different reports about his personality but most of the expert believed that Mansoor was very astute political maneuverer among all Taliban leader. He was also deeply involved in black empire trade on transnational level. Even then the United Nations, as well as the Afghan government, has described Mullah Mansour as a leader of a cartel rather than an insurgency. On the current year of May 20, AFP Kabul Bureau Chief Anuj Chopra in his article “Lance with love ‘: Afghans revel in bountiful opium harvest” said that “Fighting usually ebbs during the harvest season, illustrating how the Taliban are deeply entwined in the $ 3 billion opium trade, believed to be the mainstay of their insurgency against the government “.

A serious Pakistani liberal English newspaper daily Dawn also very interestingly explained the post Mansoor scenario in its editorial under title “Lessons from Chabahar”. The editorial quoted that “On the day when Pakistan struggled to find the words with which to register its reaction to the killing of Mullah Akhtar Mansour in a drone strike on its soil, the leaders of India, Iran and Afghanistan were preparing to meet in Tehran to finalize an agreement. The latter will take economic cooperation between the three countries to a new level. “

On the same day Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, seated between his Afghan counterpart and the Indian prime minister, spoke in a televised address following the signing of a transit accord in which he said, “from Tehran, New Delhi and Kabul, this is a crucial message … that the path to progress for regional countries goes through joint cooperation and utilizing regional opportunities “.

Now it is crystal clear that the current perspective is generating a fresh challenge for Pakistan. Afghan Foreign Office Take full advantage of the must and Take Time Position on Quetta Shurra more tough and Haqqani Network . Pakistan is getting towards more isolation because of its late ambiguous position about Mansoor death. Pakistan has also protested over the drone strike on its territory. Pakistan always opposed the drone strike on the name of collateral damage and violation of its territorial sovereignty.

Some Pakistani liberal security and regional experts are also suggesting to the establishment and GHQ for change in foreign policy towards Afghanistan. But unfortunately the security mind-set had gone too far narrow while dealing with Afghanistan and India. As now Pakistani retired three star general and security analyst Talat Masood itself accept their on narrow security thinking, he says that “Nothing would be better for both Afghanistan and Pakistan than to resolve their differences peacefully through direct negotiations in a spirit of give and take. This should be the rational approach for winning mutual confidence and reducing outside interference. In any case, with regional and global pressures, this evolution has to come sooner or later “. But he also put very interesting question to their own limited thinking and says that “The question here is how those forces in Pakistan that saw the Afghan Taliban as an asset and as a preferred means to protect our interest in Afghanistan would perceive this evolution in the future. “

Author’s brief introduction The writer is a master degree holder in English Literature and working as a Free-lance writer. He can be charity sherjan0077@gmail.com

8 Pak Paramilitary Soldiers Among 30 Rebels In Paktia

8 Pakistani militiamen among 30 rebels killed in Paktia

Pajhwok PASHTU

By
On
May 30, 2016 – 20:29

GARDEZ (Pajhwok): At least 30 Taliban insurgents, including eight Pakistani militiamen, have been killed during a clash with Afghan security forces in southeastern Paktia province, an official said on Monday.

The 303rd zone police commander in southeastern region, Maj. Gen. Asadullah Shirzad, told Pajhwok Afghan News the insurgents stormed security check posts in Aryoub Zazai district two days back.

After the attack, security forces launched an operation that resulted in the killing of 30 rebels including eight Pakistani paramilitary troops.

“Eight Pakistani militiamen were killed because they helped the insurgents fight against Afghan security forces.”

The corpses of the insurgents were also shown to reporters and Shirzad said a Pakistani militiaman had also been detained.

He said the insurgents only relied on propaganda and could not really fight against security forces.

The Taliban have not yet commented on their losses.

“If there is no opium cultivation in Helmand, there will be no war”

“If there is no opium cultivation in Helmand, there will be no war”

Mohammad Gulab Mangal, who served as the governor of Helmand province between 2008 and 2012, talks about the anti-narcotic campaign and why it has proved a big disaster.

Q: According to the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crimes (UNODC), Afghanistan continues to be the top opium producer in the world and Helmand is the largest producer of opium in Afghanistan. Why has the anti-narcotic campaign failed to produce results in this country?
A:
During my tenure as the governor of Helmand province between 2008 and 2012, with the help and assistance of international partners and the Ministry of Counter-Narcotics, the cultivation of drugs decreased significantly. However, since 2012, it has again witnessed an alarming surge.

Different strategies and approaches have been used in the fight against drugs in Afghanistan. In 2004-2005, in order to dissuade farmers from cultivating opium, the government and its international partners used to pay them money. However, that policy did not work as farmers started cultivating more opium to get more money from the government and its foreign donors.

The other approach involved the use of force against farmers, which again back-fired as farmers developed antagonistic feeling for the government. They were supported by armed insurgents and hence the drug production witnessed an alarming surge.

The massive production of drugs in Helmand is because of the suitable weather conditions and also it helps armed insurgents continue war against the government.

Q. How much money was spent on the anti-narcotic campaign in 2004-2005, which eventually proved a disaster? Do you think that gave impetus to the culture of corruption in Afghanistan?
A:
The exact amount is not known to me as the money was paid directly to farmers by foreign donors. Also it was not my direct responsibility. Based on the information and reports I received that time,it was clear that the strategy of dissuading farmers by paying them money did not work. It only led to rampant corruption.

The forged documents were also provided in that process. For example, Ahmad cultivated opium on one acre of land but he mentioned 15 acres of land in documents, so he ended up receiving more money than he ought to receive. That strategy proved a major disaster.

Q.So, do you believe the foreign money that was meant to fight drugs in Afghanistan was not used well?
A: Yes, without any doubt.The two strategies adopted by the government to stop opium cultivation backfired. The cultivation of opium not only increased but it led to surge in corruption.

Many local and foreign entities benefited from it. Today, we are told that billions of dollars have been spent on anti-narcotic campaign, but large chunk of that money was squandered.

Q. A special unit had been established in Helmand province to combat drugs. Why was it not effective?
A:After the policy of government to dissuade farmers by paying them money failed, a special unit was founded to stop opium cultivation. It also created wedge between farmers and the government and many of them joined armed insurgents. On the other hand, it led to massive corruption.Farmers used to give them hefty money for not destroying their opium fields.

Q.In one of your statements, you said the war in Helmand is not about insurgency, it is a war for drugs. Do you still stand by that statement?
A:It is true.The armed opposition groups in Helmand province receive money from farmers cultivating opium.They even force farmers and drug smugglers in the areas controlled by the government to give them money.

That is primarily why we see fewer attacks during the time of opium harvest in Helmand. After the harvest season, they buy arms and ammunition and scale up their dastardly activities. It shows that the opium money received by insurgents goes into the war. Opium funds Taliban’s war in Helmand. If there is no opium, there will be no war.

Q. If the cultivation of opium is banned in Helmand; do you think the war will also come to an end? And what should be done to stop the cultivation of opium?
A:
If opium cultivation is stopped in Helmand, I can certainly tell you the war in that province will suffer a major setback. In the context of Helmand, the cultivation of opium and war are directly connected to each other.So, the war against drugs is the war against insurgency in Helmand.

During my tenure as the governor, I tried to develop good relations with local people. We used to solve their problems through government institutions and carried out many health, agriculture and education projects. During those four years (2008-2012), the opium cultivation decreased significantly.

But since 2012, the cultivation has again jumped. The opium farms are now in government controlled areas as well, which is a matter of deep concern.

Q.How big is this problem of opium cultivation and what should the national unity government do to fight it?
A:
In my opinion, fight against drugs is as important as the fight against terrorism. It requires strong political will, without which the counter-narcotic efforts will prove futile. Secondly, it requires an out-of-box strategy and joint effort from both the government and its international partners.

Pakistan Names Afghan Generals As “Master Handlers” of NDS Agents Captured In Balochistan

Maj-Gen Naeem ‘master handler’ of NDS agents in Balochistan

the nation pakistan

Jawad R Awan

LAHORE –

epa03470408 General Muhammad Naeem Baloch, governor of volatile Helmand province, briefs the media after a meeting with Maurits Jochems (unseen), NATO's Senior Civilian representative for Afghanistan, in Lashkar Gah, Afghanistan, 14 November 2012. Maurits Jochems, appointed by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen in August 2012, replaced Simon Gass, as new NATO's Senior Civilian representative in Afghanistan in October 2012.  EPA/SHER KHAN

epa03470408 General Muhammad Naeem Baloch, governor of volatile Helmand province, briefs the media after a meeting with Maurits Jochems (unseen), NATO’s Senior Civilian representative for Afghanistan, in Lashkar Gah, Afghanistan, 14 November 2012. Maurits Jochems, appointed by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen in August 2012, replaced Simon Gass, as new NATO’s Senior Civilian representative in Afghanistan in October 2012. EPA/SHER KHAN

Major General Naeem Baloch emerged as the “master handler” of the Afghan intelligence service operatives in Balochistan with

Gen. Mohammad Naeem Momin.
Maj General Momin as his key lieutenant to advance subversion in the volatile province, security agencies sources told The Nation yesterday.

Six operatives of Afghan intelligence agency National Directorate of Security (NDS) including a serving army lieutenant had been captured by country’s premier security service Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in different catch operations in Balochistan.

In a press conference addressed by Balochistan Home Minister Sarfraz Bugti five days back, confessional video statements of the six had also been aired in which the captured admitted getting instructions from two serving major generals of Afghan Army and a

Afghan National Army Maj. Gen. Sayed Malook, commanding general of the 215th Corps, sings along with the Afghanistan national anthem at the Afghan Border Police Headquarters in Lashkar Gah, Helmand province, Afghanistan, Oct. 8, 2013. Maj. Gen. Walter L. Miller Jr., commanding general of Regional Command (Southwest), and other staff traveled to the ABP Headquarters to attend the promotion ceremony of several personnel. (Official Marine Corps Photo by Sgt. Tammy K. Hineline/Released)

Afghan National Army Maj. Gen. Sayed Malook, commanding general of the 215th Corps, sings along with the Afghanistan national anthem at the Afghan Border Police Headquarters in Lashkar Gah, Helmand province, Afghanistan, Oct. 8, 2013. Maj. Gen. Walter L. Miller Jr., commanding general of Regional Command (Southwest), and other staff traveled to the ABP Headquarters to attend the promotion ceremony of several personnel. (Official Marine Corps Photo by Sgt. Tammy K. Hineline/Released)

retired major general, Sayed Mallok.

More members of the General Naeem Baloch’s spy ring were caught in fresh operations by the ISI. The new catch includes only NDS agents of Afghan origin though none of them is of officer’s rank.

Sleeper units connected with the fresh bust are likely to be neutralised soon, said the security agencies sources.

The NDS agents used Afghan refugee camps and vicinities as cover to advance their subversive operations on Pakistani soil. They were coordinating with operatives of Indian intelligence service RAW in operations aimed at destroying the projects connected with CPEC, added the security agencies sources.

The first base of anti-Pakistan operations is Helmand province while a forward base is neighbouring Kandahar province of Afghanistan according to the disclosures of the captured, they added.

Major General Naeem Baloch, the longest serving NDS officer, emerged as the head of the “offensive intelligence operations” in Balochistan. He continued the operations even when he was made governor of Helmand province.

The key handler of operations from forward base of Kandahar is Major General Abdul Raziq AchakzaiMajor General Abdul Raziq Achakzai, the police chief of the province, who served in the NDS as regional commander.

Major General Momin, who was also a regional commander of the Afghan intelligence service, emerged as the key lieutenant of General Naeem Baloch.

General Mallok, who commanded 215th Maiwand Corps in Helmand province, had the task to train the NDS agents to launch subversion including bombings, assassinations and targeted kidnappings, according to the disclosures of the Afghan agents.

General Baloch and his key lieutenant General Momin trained the NDS agents for launching spying operations including surveillance of the targets, monitoring security forces movements, dodging counter-surveillance, propaganda operations, using technical gadgetry, making contacts with insurgents and local agents and cultivating new agents both of local and Afghan origin.

The master handler General Baloch headed the NDS as its regional chief in Helmand, Nimruz and Ghor provinces from 2002 to 2009. He remained deputy director of Afghan intelligence at its directorate from 2009 to 2011.

He also worked as chairman of board of high public function for NDS from 2011 to 2012 before his appointment as Helmand governor, according to the security agencies sources.

In ISI trail of the Afghan intelligence service’s subversive operations on Pakistani soil this year, two officers of the NDS and more than two dozen – mostly of Afghan origin and few local agents – had been captured from Balochistan.

The six operatives of the NDS captured few days back in their confessional video statements said that Rs80,000 were paid by the Afghan intelligence per bombing and Rs250,000 per target killing. Training, logistic support and weapons were also provided by the NDS.

This was the second biggest catch of the ISI after

Commander Kulbushan YadavCommander Kulbushan Yadav, the top spy of Indian RAW handling Balochistan and Karachi operations with special focus on CPEC. RAW spy had also the assistance of the NDS Kandahar station.

Published in The Nation newspaper on 30-May-2016

Indian PM To Visit Herat To Inaugurate New Salma Hydroelectric Dam

[Herat Prepares To Welcome Afghan, Indian Leaders]

Indian PM to Inaugurate Salma Dam on June 4

outlook afghanistan

Indian PM to Inaugurate Salma Dam on June 4

KABUL – Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Afghanistan this week to inaugurate a major dam project in Western Herat province, a news channel reported.
After his trip to the war-torn country, where India is sponsoring several reconstruction schemes, Modi would fly to the US to address a joint session of the Congress on June 8, NDTV said on Sunday.
Modi will go to Afghanistan on June 4, where he will inaugurate the Salma Dam in Herat that has been funded by India, the channel quoted unnamed sources as saying.
Afghan officials from the Ministry of Water and Energy have already received training in India on how to run affairs of the water reservoir. Twenty-seven more officials would be provided special training on dam management.
Salma Dam is located in the Chesht-i-Sharif locality of Kohistani district, 160km east of Herat City, the provincial capital. The dam has been constructed by an Indian company with the help 700 workers, including 250 Indians.
From Herat, he would head for Qatar on June 5 for talks with Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, NDTV said. He will stop in Switzerland on his way to Washington. The Switzerland visit is being worked out for June 6. (Pajhwok)

Secret Speech Is Not Really “Speech,” So, Why Is It Protected?

money drugSOURCE    

‘Dark money’ scourge: Well-funded secret speech corrodes politics

pittsburgh post gazette

For years we’ve been told the reason there are so many negative campaign attack ads is simple — because they work. That makes sense when candidates and campaigns spend hundreds of millions of dollars on such ads, mostly 30-second television commercials. If they didn’t work, why waste all that money?

But now we’re faced with a darker and more sinister explanation, thanks to research conducted by the Ohio Media Project. It’s a consortium of radio and television stations and the largest newspapers in the state, including the Post-Gazette’s sister paper, The Blade of Toledo.

The group, with the help of the Jefferson Center, a Minnesota-based nonpartisan civic engagement group, the Bliss Institute for Applied Politics at the University of Akron and a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, found that such ads are designed to suppress voter turnout as much as they are to persuade voters to support one candidate over another.

Researchers found that only about 1 percent of voters, primarily independents, are moved from one camp to another because of negative ads, but in swing states, like Ohio, sometimes elections are decided by 1 percent or less. But the researchers also found that, “especially with moderate voters, you get a demobilization effect, where they just kind of turn off, ‘This is a nasty campaign, I just want to stay home.’ ”

That is truly sinister and profoundly anti-democratic.

Equally disturbing as the attack ads and their intent is the answer to this question. Who is paying for this garbage? In the 2012 presidential election, independent spending — by groups not connected with either political party — came to $424.4 million supporting Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and $145 million supporting Democratic President Barack Obama.

The sources of that money, often called “dark money,” are being kept secret, and that is wrong.

Because of the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission, and a series of regulations by the FEC and the Internal Revenue Service, millionaires and billionaires can donate as much cash as they want to independent groups such as super political action committees and never worry about their names or a dollar amount being entered on the public record. The court ruled that spending money on a candidate is a form of free speech, so it can’t be regulated. But even if you accept the notion that money is speech, there is no justification for the lack of transparency. Secret speech is not speech.

The super PAC Americans for Prosperity is a good example. Look up its 2012 expenditures in opensecrets.org and the only line that comes up is: $33,542,051 spent against President Obama’s re-election.

The Center for Responsive Politics identified AFP’s biggest contributor as Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, which is controlled by billionaire industrialists David and Charles Koch. But the FEC did not require this disclosure.

In January, Charles Koch held a meeting with 500 supporters at his California estate, telling reporters, “This isn’t some secret cabal. We have ideas that will make America better.”

It’s true Mr. Koch has ideas about how America should be run. That’s not the point. The tens of millions of dollars he’s decided to spend to elect a politician to implement those ideas is the point. That is not a secret he should be allowed to keep from the public.

From the mid-1970s to 2010 there was near total consensus in this nation on at least one principle: full disclosure and transparency. We ought to know where the money is coming from and where it is going.

Democracy needs light. When power is exercised in the shadows, motives and ends are usually being hidden and the common good is usually being betrayed.

Meet the Editorial Board.

Guantanamo Taliban Rasoul/Zakir Embraces Peace Talks

With this first drone attack in Balochistan, the US seizes the initiative with controlling the Afghan Taliban, eliminating Pak ISI’s horse in this race.

rasoul gathering

[SEE: Mullah Mansour Reportedly Killed Again—This Time By Drone In Balochistan ; Mullah Dadullah Front, Guantanamo, and the New, New TalibanPakistan Arrests Mullah Rasoul After He Outs CIA/ISI Taliban Mansour ; Afghanistan Sponsoring Guantanamo Taliban Mullah Rasoul?]

Breakaway Taliban Faction Expresses Support for Peace Talks

abcnews_logo_v2

A breakaway Taliban faction is willing to hold peace talks with the Afghan government but will demand the imposition of Islamic law and the departure of all foreign forces, a senior leader of the group said Sunday.

Mullah Abdul Manan NiaziMullah Abdul Manan Niazi told a group of around 200 followers in eastern Afghanistan that his faction had no faith in the government but was willing to negotiate without preconditions.

Niazi is deputy to Mullah Mohammad Rasool, who split from the Taliban last summer after Mullah Akhtar Mansoor was chosen to succeed the group’s late founder, Mullah Mohammad Omar.

Mansoor was killed earlier this month in a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan and was replaced days later by a little known conservative cleric, Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada.

The main Taliban faction has expressed similar demands, but says it will only enter peace talks after they have been met. The U.S. and NATO officially ended their combat mission more than a year ago, but thousands of foreign soldiers remain in the country, mainly carrying out training, support and counterterrorism operations.

Mansoor had refused to participate in a peace process initiated by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani that included Pakistan, the United States and China.

Representatives of the four countries have held five meetings, without inviting the Taliban. Their aim is to chart a roadmap toward talks between the Afghan government and the insurgents to end the 15-year war, but the disarray within the Taliban has complicated those efforts.

The Taliban’s spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, has branded Rasool’s faction “a government army in the shape of the Taliban.” Speaking to the AP on Sunday, he claimed that Rasool was supported by Kabul and Washington.

“For us he is nothing more than a local policeman or a puppet of Afghan intelligence,” he said.

Rasool’s followers met in the mountainous Shindand district, near the border with Iran. Snipers on hilltops surveyed dirt roads leading to the area, which serves as the main base for the mobile fighters. The encampment where the meeting was held is only accessible by motorbike or horse.

The turbaned followers of Rasool — who is believed to have been detained in Pakistan — appeared to be armed with new weapons, including automatic rifles and grenade launchers.

The Taliban have continued to launch major attacks on government forces despite the internal conflict, and the war has shown no sign of abating over the past year.

The Taliban attacked checkpoints in the southern Helmand province late Saturday, killing four police, according to the provincial governor’s spokesman, Omar Zawaq.

Among those killed was local police commander Safar Mohammad, who in recent years had successfully kept highways in the area open to traffic. Zawaq said another nine police officers and one soldier were wounded in the attack.

———

Associated Press writer Lynne O’Donnell in Kabul, Afghanistan contributed to this report.

When Will the World Be Free of the NATO Beast?

When Will the World Be Free of the NATO Beast?

https://i0.wp.com/journal-neo.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/309494942.jpgNATO is fighting for its Paleolithic life. A dying dinosaur from a place God and time may one day forget, the military equivalent of a mafia protection racket now swishes its tail one last time in the hopes a full scale war will rescue it. With militarism as a purpose, and bending European societies in the back of its fossil mind, this listless beast of war is more dangerous than ever. Here is a look at a rusty tool of American hegemony, one the world never really needed at all.

Reading NATO’s latest misinformation bit, “NATO-Russian relations: the facts”, I recall the last half century of my own brainwashing. Like the “Captain Dan” figure, played by actor Gary Sinise in the Tom Hanks film Forest Gump, I think back on the generations of Butlers who fought in America’s wars. There is a scene in the film where Captain Dan’s forefathers bite the dust on successive historic battlefields, from Vietnam to Bunker Hill. Caaaa-plop! Each successive forefather falls backwards into the snow or mud, the look of finality on his face, as the end of war registers in the mind’s last gleaming.

Thinking about NATO, the bureaucrats and butt kissers that now play top soldiers there, I cannot help but reflect on how stupid we all were to believe. Snatching myself back to the moment, as a veteran, I feel ashamed at having backed the play of money grubbing war mongers like those that use a supposed alliance, like Al Capone used the rackets back in gangland Chicago. America, our allies, have been made repeated “offers they could not refuse”. To steal the line from another film, the Godfather with the late great Marlon Brando in the lead Mafioso role, is ideally suited to what NATO is doing today.

In the article I cite, no author is listed. Perhaps the “myths” and “facts” the military organization wishes to present are too ridiculous for anybody to attach a name, rank, and serial number to. Meant to satisfy the clinically stupid, or absurdity brainwashed killer among us, the piece makes a travesty of the truth. I speak in such a bombastic voice, because my colleagues and friends in the ranks are sick unto death of this utter bullshit. If you will allow me to deconstruct NATO’s truth, perhaps someone at the top will just order the nincompoops to stop.

NATO Fact One: On the Russia claim that NATO is trying to encircle Russia, the liars in the NATO ranks try and pull the wool over geographically challenged onlookers. NATO is trying to isolate and encircle Russa, but here is how to “rocket scientists” who work at NATO headquarters make their counterclaim:

“This claim ignores the facts of geography. Russia’s land border is just over 20,000 kilometres long. Of that, 1,215 kilometres, or less than one-sixteenth, face current NATO members.”

For those of you who loved geography as a kid, or for those among you who study history, you realize the leadership of NATO takes you for utter fools. In order to expose a ridiculousness in any such dialogue, all one need do it expose the chief lie amidst the propaganda. NATO’s content specialist who helped construct this nonsense goes on to remind us how Russia shares land borders with only 14 countries, only 5 of which are NATO members. But while Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, China, North Korea, are not all NATO cohorts yet, the strategy to include more is unarguable. Only those people trapped inside mine shafts, or lost in the wilderness can even consider what NATO is asserting as cognizant.

Using the interactive map NATO provides here, readers can easily construct a real truth, however.

NATO map http://journal-neo.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/nato-1.jpg
Clicking on the map to include; troop contributing countries, Mediterranean dialog partners, Istanbul Cooperation Initiative partners, NATO Command & Control, NATO missions, and partners around the globe, and the picture of a surrounded Russia becomes clearer. And if there is a real geographer out there among you, the situation from satellite, looking at this encirclement from the global perspective looks even worse. The United States and Canada, almost all of Europe and most of the Middle East represent the NATO team. China and some of Southeast Asia, Iran and India are pretty much outside NATO’s clutches. Yes, I said clutches. Russia, for all Washington’s and London’s bellyaching, only extends past its home ground where conflict threatens her borders. Russia has attacked no one. Russia is on the defensive like always. NATO is in the business of war, not defense. Let me show you.

On the NATO history pages you will find the not-so subtle bragging the military organization unashamedly spits at the civilian world. Since its birth in 1949, NATO’s Article 5 has been the spear to the heart of European peace. While the site reflects on the Marshall Plan from whence NATO arose as a sort of stabilizing commandments, the economic and military goals set forth were only biblical for the trouble festering beneath. What we see now in chaos across Europe and the Middle East, is the fruits of a catastrophic strategy. NATO’s plans, and those of leading members, are nothing short of perpetual war. NATO fights to remain relevant, and the only way to accomplish this is through fear. The Korean War should have shown us, the common enemy would always be the “great motivator”. That war also should have shown us, NATO would never really allow for winning any war totally.

Also, a strategy known as the “Massive Retaliation” doctrine sucked European nations into the NATO web via the charade of diverting military spending to economic growth. Ostensibly, the US and other big NATO partners would “nuke” Russia is she attacked NATO nations. So, the United States became the world’s police force, and smaller nations got to save trillions on military spending. In something akin to a “big fix”, those that lead NATO would soon blackmail lesser members with the “great boogey man”, the Soviet Union. I needn’t go further here than to point out the language these NATO psychopaths use. In depicting France’s kicking NATO out of their country in 1967, the NATO narrative shows the underlying reality of militaristic organizations. France told NATO to get out, and here is how NATO describes its partners today:

“Flexibility was always key to NATO’s success, and the French withdrawal from NATO’s integrated military command structure demonstrated that NATO, unlike the Warsaw Pact, could tolerate differing viewpoints between its members.”

The underlying attitude is not really subtle, but the use of the word “tolerate” is significant. How magnanimous NATO leadership was, to not launch an immediate attack on Paris once the French told the alliance to bug off. The insanity stretches even further. NATO writers go on to describe how “Europe”, by its definition, was only even viable before NATO once again started to expand Eastward. Bear with me here, for the dogma is critical. NATO “endured” after the fall of the Soviet Union, in order to help “democratize” Eastern Europe. Yes, you read that correctly, NATO was used as a force of democracy to spread Europe eastward. NATO was being used as an occupying force, to “deter the rise of militant nationalism and to provide the foundation of collective security that would encourage democratization and political integration in Europe.” Those are not my words; NATO crafted its own history pages using its own “definitions” for expansion.

“The definition of “Europe” had merely expanded eastward. Before the consolidation of peace and security could begin, however, one spectre haunting European politics remained to be exorcised. Since the Franco-Prussian War, Europe had struggled to come to terms with a united

Germany at its heart. The incorporation of a re-unified Germany into the Alliance put this most ancient and destructive of dilemmas to rest.”

So the people and their politics had less to do with the formation of NATO or even the EU, and a whole lot more to do with iron militarism and the threats dictated by NATO’s elite, the men and women behind the alliance. Russia, and China, anyone outside the “club”, they are the threats dangled in front of Europe’s people. Yugoslavia, Georgia and the Caucasus, all the NATO interventions are used for drumming up the idea the treaty organization is about peacekeeping. When my team and I discovered NATO was behind the Ukraine “Peacemaker” kill lists targeting Russian sympathizers in the East of Urkaine, it was at that moment I began to understand who the real good guys were. Listing private information on people who support separatists in the Donbass, Peacemaker was not only tied to NATO via its servers, but to the British Embassy and various NGOs. NATO backs Nazis. NATO is about making war, not preventing it. And NATO does in fact have one primary enemy, Russia. Here are the irrefutable facts about NATO’s part in world chaos.

The 1950s and 60s: Diabolical Fanaticisms

NATO was always about militarism. Even before the Cold War got started in earnest, the Pentagon and its allied think tanks abroad were at play fighting the “Reds” to the death. Then a top secret initiative was set in motion. The National Security Council Paper NSC-68 (entitled “United States Objectives and Programs for National Security” and frequently referred to as NSC-68) helped launch an arms race that dwarfed any other human endeavor in history. That arms race continues, but the sewn seeds were planted just before 1950, and NATO was a major part of this plan. Citing the “hostile design” of the Soviet Union, the framers of this strategy were akin to paranoid schizophrenics, men who believed the Soviet doctrine was some kind of “fanatical faith”. Reading the declassified documents now, I wonder how in hell we ever avoid mutually assured destruction (MAD), these people were crazy and diabolical.

It was America’s and NATO’s own fanaticism that carried us through the Korean War. Besides being one of the most bitter and useless conflicts in history, the Korean War were a turning point for the construct of NATO. Because the Soviets had armed the North Koreans, American President Truman and the western Cold War strategists misread Korea as an indicator of wider Soviet intentions to invade Western Europe. NATO was sent into overdrive, and Truman’s term “police force” set the tone for continual chaos we’ve seen these last decades. NATO claims Russia is not being encircled, but encirclement was always the goal. In 1950s, the outbreak of the Korean War led Australia and New Zealand to commit troops through the United Nations and alongside the NATO allies, demonstrating both their concern over the threat of communism and their commitment to doing their part to help contain it in the region. The “Truman Doctrine” that gesticulated future militarism, metastasized into and even larger military alliance via the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the Central Treaty Organization (Cento), and the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO). So NATO stood cheering on the sidelines, as Vietnam further indemnified its existence.

The 70s & 80s & Indentured Servitude

Throughout the 1970s, NATO’s dogma remained constant, “defending Europe”, but of course that only meant “Europe” by western definitions. Or was it “free Europe”, as in Radio Free Europe, the propaganda channel we know now as Radio Liberty. Ronald Reagan and the 80s echo the assimilation of all those Europe nations; this Foreign Policy piece reminds us how Europe owes America its NATO debt. Servitude, this is the end result of all protection rackets, and the deployment of long range nuclear missiles in Europe, against the will of Europe’s people, cemented NATO’s occupation of the continent. Yes, you read me correctly; NATO has been an occupational force, more so than a defender. Reagan, like Truman decades before, elevated the arms race to unheard of heights. The “Evil Empire” was used, to pour trillions upon trillions of dollars into further hopelessness. Insanity, on a runaway train, threatened to take us to the brink of an Apocolypse, as the Soviets were pushed to the brink. They collapsed, rather than launching a preemptive strike on their attackers. And this tells us much.

Bosnia: And the Rest is History

I have lamented Yugoslavia before. Sputnik International picked up my commentary, the depth of the lost potential being so deep. NATO emerged from its role as faithful defenders of democracy, and became a hegemonic tool for sure in 1992. The Yugoslav wars were the moment Western warmongers were waiting for, so that Hollywood operational names could be created for regime changes. Inherent Resolve and other corny movie-like military actions more recently were born of Operation Sharp Vigilance, the UN/NATO embargo of the Adriatic Sea and Yugoslavia. The Bush, and later Clinton White Houses oversaw the utter destruction of a mediating state, in between the West, and the Soviets. This was NATO’s first “assignment” in an expansive war on Russia. Though some will argue, subsequent NATO and EU expansionist efforts betray any argument NATO enthusiasts can bring. Yugoslavia’s demise was the signal for all subsequent political wars and regime changes. NATO airstrikes sealed the fate of Yugoslavia.

Moving along, NATO being asked to help in Afghanistan before US and coalition around the time of 9/11, and before the invasion, is suspicious at the least. 2001 seemed a bit early for the Afghans to be requesting a NATO led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). Then on another request of the United States, the Alliance launched its first-ever counter-terrorism operation – Operation Eagle Assist – from mid-October 2001 to mid-May 2002. Then NATO took up policing the Athens Olympics in 2004, the Riga Summit in 2006, and training Iraqi security forces from 2004 until 2011. Operation Allied Provider in 2008 saw NATO extend into fighting Somalia pirates, and in 2011 NATO essentially overthrew Muammar Gaddafi, at the onset of Arab Spring. NATO continues to expand is sphere of operations today. With operations still ongoing in Afghanistan, still fighting piracy around Cape Horn, and flying what it terms “air policing missions”, NATO forces today are even more menacing than they were during the first Cold War.

Most of what I have presented here comes from the official pages of NATO’s own “fact” files, its history, and the professions of the organization’s stalwartness. If the reader will investigate, the reality of NATO as an archaic institution of war becomes so transparent. It was so from the beginning. With the Allies versus the Axis over with, an industry bent on creating ongoing strife, and disguised as the hero of the free world, assimilated many nations into the lie. Russia and the Soviet Union before certainly had similar strategies afoot. But compared to the devastation Western nations have wrought on emerging countries for decades, Moscow is Mt. Zion. US and NATO bases worldwide approach 1,000 in number, and stretch across 156 countries. Meanwhile, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported this month that NATO is concerned about a Russian base near neighboring Ukraine. Ukraine is on the border of Russia, but the United States is thousands of miles distant. There is a lack of logic and truth in this, that no one can escape. At the other end of the spectrum, RT reports the US will spend tens of millions on Estonian bases bordering Russia. And to cap off my report, it is only too appropriate to tell of the latest Hollywood naming convention, something called the European Reassurance Initiative (ERI), through NATO’s support program of eastern countries. I leave you with the expanded role of NATO today, a cognizant remedy against the organization’s idiotic propaganda. The essence of this will galvanize for you, how the leadership in the West’s leaders view NATO’s role.

“The definition of “security” has radically expanded to include the individual’s freedom from the violent extremism bred by instability and nation-state failure. For instance, much of the world’s attention in 2011 was focused on the crisis in Libya where NATO played a crucial role in helping to protect civilians under attack from their own government.”

Radically expanded, from a police force, established as a defense alliance, and proud to have thrust Libya into turmoil and chaos? I think we can with righteous indignation, call NATO and its leadership, liars of the first magnitude.

Phil Butler, is a policy investigator and analyst, a political scientist and expert on Eastern Europe, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

 

The Pakistan-US Two-Way Double Game

Pakistan-US relationship: A double game?

upfront

Asad Durrani, former head of Pakistan’s ISI, debates Michael Flynn, former head of the US Defense Intelligence Agency.

Earlier this month it was revealed that the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) suspected its Islamabad station chief may have been poisoned by Pakistan’s military intelligence service, the ISI, following the 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

While the reports have not been confirmed, some say such level of suspicion points to growing distrust between the two countries.

Those within US intelligence argue Pakistan is playing a “double game” by saying it supports the US’ role in the region, while also supporting the Taliban.

Pakistani officials have denied these long-standing allegations, while others believe double games are essential because their interests do not always align with those of the US. Such distrust, however, has left many to wonder about the future of relations between the two countries.

In this week’s Arena, we bring together former heads of the two countries’ intelligence agencies to debate their sensitive relationship.

Michael Flynn, former director of the US Defense Intelligence Agency under President Barack Obama and author of, The Field of Fight: How We Can Win the Global War Against Radical Islam and Its Allies, is in debate with Asad Durrani, the former head of the ISI, and one of the main architects of Pakistan’s Mujahideen policy in Afghanistan.

Editor’s note: The Arena was recorded prior to the US drone strike in Pakistan that killed Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour.

Follow UpFront on Twitter @AJUpFront and Facebook.

aljazeera

Source: Al Jazeera

 

Silencing Americans As We Are Being Prepared For The Real War

Silencing America as it prepares war

Trump ClintonJohn Pilger Correspondent
RETURNING to the United States in an election year, I am struck by the silence. I have covered four presidential campaigns, starting with 1968; I was with Robert Kennedy when he was shot and I saw his assassin, preparing to kill him.

It was a baptism in the American way, along with the salivating violence of the Chicago police at the Democratic Party’s rigged convention.

The great counter revolution had begun.

The first to be assassinated that year, Martin Luther King, had dared link the suffering of African-Americans and the people of Vietnam. When Janis Joplin sang, “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose”, she spoke perhaps unconsciously for millions of America’s victims in faraway places.

“We lost 58 000 young soldiers in Vietnam, and they died defending your freedom. Now don’t you forget it.” So said a National Parks Service guide as I filmed last week at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington.

He was addressing a school party of young teenagers in bright orange T-shirts. As if by rote, he inverted the truth about Vietnam into an unchallenged lie.

The millions of Vietnamese who died and were maimed and poisoned and dispossessed by the American invasion have no historical place in young minds, not to mention the estimated 60 000 veterans who took their own lives.

A friend of mine, a marine who became a paraplegic in Vietnam, was often asked, “Which side did you fight on?”

A few years ago, I attended a popular exhibition called “The Price of Freedom” at the venerable Smithsonian Institution in Washington.

The lines of ordinary people, mostly children shuffling through a Santa’s grotto of revisionism, were dispensed a variety of lies: the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki saved “a million lives”; Iraq was “liberated [by] air strikes of unprecedented precision”.

The theme was unerringly heroic: only Americans pay the price of freedom.

The 2016 election campaign is remarkable not only for the rise of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders but also for the resilience of an enduring silence about a murderous self-bestowed divinity.

A third of the members of the United Nations have felt Washington’s boot, overturning governments, subverting democracy, imposing blockades and boycotts. Most of the presidents responsible have been liberal — Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, Carter, Clinton, Obama.

The breathtaking record of perfidy is so mutated in the public mind, wrote the late Harold Pinter, that it “never happened . . . Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn’t happening. It didn’t matter. It was of no interest. It didn’t matter . . . . “.

Pinter expressed a mock admiration for what he called “a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It’s a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis.”

Take Obama. As he prepares to leave office, the fawning has begun all over again.

He is “cool”. One of the more violent presidents, Obama gave full reign to the Pentagon war-making apparatus of his discredited predecessor.

He prosecuted more whistleblowers — truth-tellers — than any president. He pronounced Chelsea Manning guilty before she was tried. Today, Obama runs an unprecedented worldwide campaign of terrorism and murder by drone.

In 2009, Obama promised to help “rid the world of nuclear weapons” and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. No American president has built more nuclear warheads than Obama. He is “modernising” America’s doomsday arsenal, including a new “mini” nuclear weapon, whose size and “smart” technology, says a leading general, ensure its use is “no longer unthinkable”.

James Bradley, the best-selling author of Flags of Our Fathers and son of one of the US marines who raised the flag on Iwo Jima, said, “[One] great myth we’re seeing play out is that of Obama as some kind of peaceful guy who’s trying to get rid of nuclear weapons. He’s the biggest nuclear warrior there is. He’s committed us to a ruinous course of spending a trillion dollars on more nuclear weapons. Somehow, people live in this fantasy that because he gives vague news conferences and speeches and feel-good photo-ops that somehow that’s attached to actual policy. It isn’t.”

On Obama’s watch, a second cold war is under way. The Russian president is a pantomime villain; the Chinese are not yet back to their sinister pig-tailed caricature — when all Chinese were banned from the United States — but the media warriors are working on it.

Neither Hillary Clinton nor Bernie Sanders has mentioned any of this. There is no risk and no danger for the United States and all of us. For them, the greatest military build-up on the borders of Russia since World War Two has not happened. On May 11, Romania went “live” with a Nato “missile defence” base that aims its first-strike American missiles at the heart of Russia, the world’s second nuclear power.

In Asia, the Pentagon is sending ships, planes and special forces to the Philippines to threaten China. The US already encircles China with hundreds of military bases that curve in an arc up from Australia, to Asia and across to Afghanistan. Obama calls this a “pivot”.

As a direct consequence, China reportedly has changed its nuclear weapons policy from no-first-use to high alert and put to sea submarines with nuclear weapons. The escalator is quickening.

It was Hillary Clinton who, as Secretary of State in 2010, elevated the competing territorial claims for rocks and reef in the South China Sea to an international issue; CNN and BBC hysteria followed; China was building airstrips on the disputed islands. In its mammoth war game in 2015, Operation Talisman Sabre, the US practiced “choking” the Straits of Malacca through which pass most of China’s oil and trade. This was not news.

Clinton declared that America had a “national interest” in these Asian waters. The Philippines and Vietnam were encouraged and bribed to pursue their claims and old enmities against China. In America, people are being primed to see any Chinese defensive position as offensive, and so the ground is laid for rapid escalation. A similar strategy of provocation and propaganda is applied to Russia.

Clinton, the “women’s candidate”, leaves a trail of bloody coups: in Honduras, in Libya (plus the murder of the Libyan president) and Ukraine. The latter is now a CIA theme park swarming with Nazis and the frontline of a beckoning war with Russia.

It was through Ukraine – literally, borderland — that Hitler’s Nazis invaded the Soviet Union, which lost 27 million people. This epic catastrophe remains a presence in Russia. Clinton’s presidential campaign has received money from all but one of the world’s ten biggest arms companies. No other candidate comes close.

Sanders, the hope of many young Americans, is not very different from Clinton in his proprietorial view of the world beyond the United States. He backed Bill Clinton’s illegal bombing of Serbia. He supports Obama’s terrorism by drone, the provocation of Russia and the return of special forces (death squads) to Iraq. He has nothing to say on the drumbeat of threats to China and the accelerating risk of nuclear war. He agrees that Edward Snowden should stand trial and he calls Hugo Chavez – like him, a social democrat – “a dead communist dictator”. He promises to support Clinton if she is nominated.

The election of Trump or Clinton is the old illusion of choice that is no choice: two sides of the same coin. In scapegoating minorities and promising to “make America great again”, Trump is a far right-wing domestic populist; yet the danger of Clinton may be more lethal for the world.

“Only Donald Trump has said anything meaningful and critical of US foreign policy,” wrote Stephen Cohen, emeritus professor of Russian History at Princeton and NYU, one of the few Russia experts in the United States to speak out about the risk of war.

In a radio broadcast, Cohen referred to critical questions Trump alone had raised. Among them: why is the United States “everywhere on the globe”? What is NATO’s true mission? Why does the US always pursue regime change in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Ukraine? Why does Washington treat Russia and Vladimir Putin as an enemy?

The hysteria in the liberal media over Trump serves an illusion of “free and open debate” and “democracy at work”. His views on immigrants and Muslims are grotesque, yet the deporter-in-chief of vulnerable people from America is not Trump but Obama, whose betrayal of people of colour is his legacy: such as the warehousing of a mostly black prison population, now more numerous than Stalin’s gulag.

This presidential campaign may not be about populism but American liberalism, an ideology that sees itself as modern and therefore superior and the one true way. Those on its right wing bear a likeness to 19th century Christian imperialists, with a God-given duty to convert or co-opt or conquer.

In Britain, this is Blairism. The Christian war criminal Tony Blair got away with his secret preparation for the invasion of Iraq largely because the liberal political class and media fell for his “cool Britannia”. In the Guardian, the applause was deafening; he was called “mystical”. A distraction known as identity politics, imported from the United States, rested easily in his care.

History was declared over, class was abolished and gender promoted as feminism; lots of women became New Labour MPs. They voted on the first day of Parliament to cut the benefits of single parents, mostly women, as instructed. A majority voted for an invasion that produced 700,000 Iraqi widows.

The equivalent in the US are the politically correct warmongers on theNew York Times, the Washington Post and network TV who dominate political debate. I watched a furious debate on CNN about Trump’s infidelities. It was clear, they said, a man like that could not be trusted in the White House. No issues were raised. Nothing on the 80 per cent of Americans whose income has collapsed to 1970s levels. Nothing on the drift to war. The received wisdom seems to be “hold your nose” and vote for Clinton: anyone but Trump. That way, you stop the monster and preserve a system gagging for another war.

Romania ‘in crosshairs’ after opening NATO missile defense base–Putin

Putin: Romania ‘in crosshairs’ after opening NATO missile defense base

Russia-Today

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras (R) attend a news conference, after their meeting at the Maximos Mansion in Athens on 27 May 2016. © Orestis Panagiotou / Reuters
During a visit to Greece intended to repair ties with the EU, Vladimir Putin said that Russia has “no choice” but to target Romania, which has recently opened a NATO missile defense base, and Poland, which plans to do so within two years.

“If yesterday people simply did not know what it means to be in the crosshairs in those areas of Romania, then today we will be forced to carry out certain measures to ensure our security. And it will be the same with Poland,” Putin said during a joint press conference with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in Athens on Friday.

The Russian President was referring to the Deveselu facility that officially became operational in May after nearly a decade and $800 million of planning and construction.

At the moment the interceptor missiles installed have a range of 500 kilometers, soon this will go up to 1000 kilometers, and worse than that, they can be rearmed with 2400km-range offensive missiles even today, and it can be done by simply switching the software, so that even the Romanians themselves won’t know,” said Putin, who is in Greece for a two-day tour.

We have the capability to respond. The whole world saw what our medium-range sea-based missiles are capable of [in Syria]. But we violate no agreements. And our ground-based Iskander missiles have also proven themselves as superb,” continued Putin.

Russia’s political and military leadership has repeatedly spoken out against the missile defense shield since it was proposed during the George W. Bush administration, and Putin reiterated that Moscow does not believe the European part of it is targeted against a potential threat from Iran.

NATO fend us off with vague statements that this is no threat to Russia… That the whole project began as a preventive measure against Iran’s nuclear program. Where is that program now? It doesn’t exist,” said Putin, referring to the nuclear treaty that was concluded between the world’s major powers and Tehran last year. “We have been saying since the early 2000s that we will have to react somehow to your moves to undermine international security. No one is listening to us.”

Obama Caves-In To Erdogan’s Whining—SOF In Syria To Remove Kurdish Patches

US troops fighting ISIS to remove ‘inappropriate’ Kurdish patches after Turkish complaint

Russia-Today

 

Photos of US special forces wearing the insignia of the Kurdish YPG militia while fighting ISIS in northern Syria have put the US in hot water with Turkey. The Pentagon denies American troops are engaged in combat, and has told them to lose the patches.

“Wearing those YPG patches was unauthorized and inappropriate, and corrective action has been taken,” spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve in Baghdad, Colonel Steve Warren, told the Pentagon press corps on Friday. “We have communicated as much to our military partners and military allies in the region.”

Photos of US soldiers wearing Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) insignia were taken on Wednesday by AFP journalist Delil Souleiman in the northern Syrian village of Fatisah. The area is roughly 30 miles (48 km) north of Raqqa, the “capital” of the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).635998801306185650-ypg-patch

“It is not acceptable for US soldiers to wear YPG terrorist arm badges. This is double standards, two-faced,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Thursday, in response to the photographs.

US Special Forces have a “long and proud history” of wearing such patches of their allies around the world, from Afghanistan to Latin America, in order to “connect with those they are training,” Warren explained, echoing Thursday’s comments by Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook.  However, he explained that the practice has not been formally authorized by the military.

“There’s political sensitivities around the organization that patch represents,” Warren explained, adding that Turkey is an important NATO ally and that the Special Forces operatives needed to “understand the larger strategic context.”

“The patches were in fact not authorized. We’ve made the correction. Everybody’s moving on,” Warren said. He did not specify what manner of “corrective action” was involved.

There are about 300 US special operatives in Syria, according to the Pentagon. Most of them are embedded with the so-called “Syrian Democratic Forces” (SDF) in the north, a group encompassing the YPG and a coalition of Arab tribal militias. Warren had previously stated that the US operatives were focused on providing advice and assistance “particularly to the Syrian Arab component of the forces.”

“We understand Turkey’s concerns, and we continue to discuss this and other concerns Turkey has regarding Daesh and issues in northern Syria,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters Friday, using another name for IS.

While there may be disagreements among the US-led coalition as to how to proceed and who to cooperate with on the ground, the goal is “destroy and degrade Daesh and remove them from the battlefield,” Toner added.

“We’re working with Syrian Arabs, Syrian Turkmen, and other groups that are fighting Daesh,” Toner said, adding the US regards the YPG “as an effective partner” and will continue to work with them as part of the SDF.

When reporters asked why none of the US soldiers was photographed wearing an Arab patch, Warren tried to dodge the question.

“The internet is full of pictures, the majority of them either fake or wrong,” he said. “There’s been one situation where we have confirmed they were legitimate pictures of American service members in Syria. Only one. And that was yesterday. It was difficult to tell who they were with, exactly.”

To his knowledge, US special operatives were not in combat anywhere in Syria. He rejected as “completely inaccurate” the reports of operatives in Fatisah firing TOW missiles at IS positions, based on claims of Kurdish fighters.

“They’re deep behind enemy lines, aren’t they?” he added as a caveat. “We may not have perfect fidelity what happens every hour of every day out there, in the wilds of Syria.”

While the US Special Forces are required to stay in areas “where enemy contact is unlikely,” Warren pointed out that CPO Charles Keating IV, the Navy SEAL killed in northern Iraq in early May, was three miles behind the lines when his convoy was attacked by IS.

Why did the Defense Logistics Agency junk US-funded Afghan Air Force planes?

https://i1.wp.com/media.defenceindustrydaily.com/images/AIR_G222_Refurbished_ANAAC_First_Delivery_lg.jpgBEFORE

Pakistan’s Wars Within

[This was a very professional Islamist attack upon a Pakistani Navy ship, F-22P PNS Zulfiquar.JPG
the PNS Zulfiqar, in order to use its surface-to-surface missiles against nearby US Navy vessels (5 Pakistan Navy officers to hang for conspiring to hijack naval ship).]

The Wars Within

newsweek pak

By Khaled Ahmed


Pakistani Navy cadets march at the mausoleum of the founder of Pakistan Muhammad Ali Jinnah during a ceremony to mark the country’s Independence Day in Karachi on August 14, 2014. Pakistan on August 14 celebrated the anniversary of the country's independence from British rule. AFP PHOTO/ Rizwan TABASSUM

Pakistani Navy cadets march at the mausoleum of the founder of Pakistan Muhammad Ali Jinnah during a ceremony to mark the country’s Independence Day in Karachi on August 14, 2014. Pakistan on August 14 celebrated the anniversary of the country’s independence from British rule. AFP PHOTO/ Rizwan TABASSUM

Rizwan Tabassum—AFP

Al Qaeda’s attempted hijacking of the warship PNS Zulfiqar failed—thanks to Operation Zarb-e-Azb and Gen. Raheel Sharif’s clarity.

It took two days for the Pakistan Navy to confess that its dockyard in Karachi had been attacked on Defense Day, Sept. 6. “The group tried to penetrate the dockyard area,” said a Navy spokesman. “Navy security personnel responded valiantly and, in the ensuing encounter, killed two intruders while apprehending four miscreants alive.”

Entirely missing from this succinct statement were some startling facts. The attack was on PNS Zulfiqar—a missile-equipped warship built by China and Pakistan four years ago—and it was perpetrated by Al Qaeda in collaboration with former and serving Navy personnel. This latest incident was in keeping with the 2011 attack on the Navy’s Mehran airbase in Karachi. That one took place between the killing of Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad and the mysterious murder of journalist Saleem Shahzad, who had written about radicalization in the military. Indeed, the Mehran attack was triggered by the Navy’s alleged refusal to release scores of its employees arrested over suspicion of loyalty to Al Qaeda.

But the PNS Zulfiqar attack is more significant than others—because of its failure. Zarb-e-Azb, the ongoing military operation in North Waziristan appears to have weakened the “martyrdom”-aspiring, ideological hold of Al Qaeda. This time, the Navy’s response was also robust. This is what the taking alive of several attackers suggests. The captured terrorists failed to kill themselves, and were made to sing. As a result, law enforcement agencies were able to nab more Al Qaeda abettors—including, reportedly, 17 employees and ex-employees of the Navy—from across Pakistan.

This was also the first time that Sindh province was named as Al Qaeda’s new grazing ground. Owais Jakhrani, said to be the son of a senior police officer, was identified as one of the PNS Zulfiqar attackers. He had served in the Navy and his body was found drowned near the vessel. The attack, it turns out, had come from the sea and some of the attackers had managed to land on the warship.

Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent has owned the attack. “The attackers were former Pakistan Navy officers-turned-jihadists,” said its spokesman Osama Mahmood. The plan was to hijack PNS Zulfiqar to launch an attack on a U.S. aircraft carrier. “They had taken over control of the ship and were proceeding to attack the American vessel when they were intercepted by the Pakistan Armed Forces.” Mahmood has promised to release a video of the attack. If this pledge is fulfilled, it will likely open another can of worms about the Navy and the extent to which it has been infiltrated.

All three services—the Army, Air Force, Navy—face challenge from radicals within their ranks. But the infiltration of the Navy looks massive given its size. Including reservists, the Navy is a force of about 35,000 personnel. (Like the other services, the Navy is striving, through affirmative action, to make itself more nationally representative: In 2007, it gave commission to the first Baloch naval squadron, and it has established three additional facilities in Balochistan to recruit and train personnel.)

Early last month, Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri spoke to the world through an hour-long video, vowing to “return India to Islamic rule.” Does Al Qaeda have a base in India, as the new AQIS franchise suggests?

Zabihuddin Ansari alias Abu Jandal, an Indian terrorist arrested in Saudi Arabia and surrendered to New Delhi in 2012, revealed connections between the 2008 Mumbai attacks and India’s own Muslim radicals. “Militants do have a presence in India,” according to Foreign Affairs in September, “and a history of responding to Hindu nationalist provocations.” The U.S. publication says: “A radical offshoot of the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind known as the Students Islamic Movement of India broke away from its pacifist parent organization in response to the intensifying Hindu nationalist movement of the 1980s and was radicalized by the destruction of the Babri Mosque and other instances of violence against Muslims in 1992. Protesting the rise of Hindu nationalism—and the moderate response of India’s Islamic institutions—SIMI openly called for jihad against the Indian government and the creation of a caliphate. Today, the group is believed to have about 400 full-time operatives and 20,000 members.”

Had Al Qaeda been successful in hijacking PNS Zulfiqar, it would have been a “suicide ship.” Its fighting days would have been curtailed in short order by two strong naval presences, India’s and America’s, in the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea. Targeting an American carrier would have proved difficult. An exchange of fire would have made short work of an adventure clearly meant to publicize Al Qaeda now that the region has other more savage competitors, like the Islamic State (formerly ISIL). But could India too have been endangered?

Al Qaeda carried out the 2008 Mumbai attacks with the help of Pakistani radicals—like Ajmal Kasab and David Headley, who made lengthy confessions after being arrested. Had AQIS succeeded in hijacking PNS Zulfiqar, already uncertain relations between Pakistan and India would have worsened. Even now, the outlook is dicey.

G. Parthasarathy, a former Indian envoy to Pakistan known for his hardline views, put a negative gloss on Zawahiri’s video message, making it look as if it was inspired by Pakistan. His piece in The New Indian Express after the dockyard attack says: “It is striking that the Zawahiri diatribe is couched in language used by the Pakistani military establishment over the past six decades. He describes the creation of Bangladesh as a ‘conspiracy’ by ‘agents’ of India. He reflects Pakistani animosity towards the secular Bangladesh government of Sheikh Hasina, as enjoying ‘the blessings of both India and America’ and calls on scholars in Bangladesh to ‘fulfill the role Islam has given them to fight against secularists and atheists.’ India is predictably called an ‘enemy of Islam.’ He notes: ‘The events in Bangladesh and Burma are not too distant from the oppression and killings of Muslims in Kashmir, or the racial cleansing in Assam, Gujarat and Ahmadabad earlier.’”

Parthasarathy’s analysis appears patently emotive and divorced from the new reality post-June, when Zarb-e-Azb was launched. The military operation has resulted in the wholesale exodus of foreign militants, particularly the Haqqani network, from Pakistani territory. But, unfortunately, every country neighboring it nurses negative views about Pakistan. This will take time to change.

India, Afghanistan, Iran and even China believe that Pakistan or at least its territory is involved in terrorist activities in the region. In 2011, the-then U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, called the Haqqani network—a branch of the Afghan Taliban based in Pakistan’s tribal areas—“a veritable arm” of the Pakistani state.

But if the Taliban are Pakistan’s “veritable arm,” why do they frequently attack and kill Pakistani troops? This is worrisome for the Pakistani military strategist because it points to possible internal contradictions of the Pakistani state and conversion of state employees to the toxic worldview of those it calls terrorists. It is not often that Pakistan officially recognizes this fact the way it has in the case of the dockyard attack.

Fishing boats are moored near a naval dockyard in Pakistan's port city of Karachi on September 9, 2014. Taliban militants attacked a Karachi naval dockyard in a raid which left a Pakistani officer and two insurgents dead, officials said September 9. An officer and six sailors were also wounded in the attack early September 6 on the high security facility, a navy spokesman said, adding that four attackers had been captured alive. AFP PHOTO/ Asif HASSAN

Fishing boats are moored near a naval dockyard in Pakistan’s port city of Karachi on September 9, 2014. Taliban militants attacked a Karachi naval dockyard in a raid which left a Pakistani officer and two insurgents dead, officials said September 9. An officer and six sailors were also wounded in the attack early September 6 on the high security facility, a navy spokesman said, adding that four attackers had been captured alive. AFP PHOTO/ Asif HASSAN

Fishing boats near the Navy dockyard, Sept. 9. Asif Hassan—AFP

In his book, Inside Al Qaeda and the Taliban: Beyond Bin Laden and 9/11, journalist Shahzad provides an estimate of Al Qaeda’s mind-control in Pakistan: “Since 1979, at least 100,000 Pakistanis were active members of different jihadist cadres. Over 1 million students were enrolled in various Islamic seminaries, and there were several hundred thousand supporters of Pakistan’s Islamic religious parties. The main handler of the Afghan Jihad against the Soviets had been the Pakistan Army, which itself was not immune to the influence of radicalism.”

He continues: “Several Army officers had pledged their allegiance to different jihadist spiritual leaders, including Maulana Akram Awan of Chakwal. These groups were known in the Army as pir bhai groups. Although Gen. Pervez Musharraf had purged some of these elements from the Army after 9/11—including his very close friend, the-then Deputy Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Muzaffar Usmani—he was unable to completely eradicate the radical tendency, which had become deep-rooted in Pakistan’s security services from 1979 to 2001.”

After he ordered the Kashmir jihad closed, Musharraf was attacked not only by jihadist organizations but also by serving and retired military personnel. He survived several assassination attempts. In 2003, Musharraf nearly got killed after attacks from Al Qaeda through Abu Faraj al-Libbi, Jaish-e-Muhammad and some Air Force personnel. (His successor, Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, also got a taste of the same tough medicine after he was seen by Al Qaeda-affiliated groups as becoming soft on the Americans, a factor that may have nurtured in him a hesitation to grasp the nettle of North Waziristan’s “safe haven.”)

Musharraf had wanted a counterattack in South Waziristan but was thwarted by his corps commander in Peshawar, Lt. Gen. Ali Muhammad Jan Aurakzai, who preferred retirement to an operation. In 2004, Aurakzai’s successor, Lt. Gen. Safdar Hussain, struck truce with Taliban commander Nek Muhammad at Shakai, binding him from attacking Afghanistan and requiring him to get rid of foreign militants. Muhammad did not abide by the peace accord.

In Scorpion’s Tail, Zahid Hussain recounts that General Hussain told him he wanted the Americans “trapped in Afghanistan.” The general was seen on TV dubbing Nek Muhammad “a soldier of Islam.” After the Taliban commander was killed by a U.S. drone in June 2004, the general signed another peace accord, this time with Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud at Sararogha and gave him half a million dollars to abandon loyalty to Al Qaeda. Mehsud, too, did not abide by the terms of the accord.

In Inside the Pakistan Army: a Woman’s Experience on the Frontline of the War on Terror, military historian Carey Schofield, who was for a time embedded with the combat formations of the Pakistan Army, narrates the story of Maj. Gen. Faisal Alvi of the SSG commando brigade. Alvi was gunned down by renegade Maj. Haroon Ashiq on the orders of Al Qaeda’s Ilyas Kashmiri, another ex-commando, who had wanted Alvi punished for making things tough for Al Qaeda in the tribal areas. Ashiq was arrested but finally acquitted by a court in Rawalpindi. Capt. Khurram Ashiq, his brother, was also Al Qaeda and was killed in Helmand fighting the British.

After the Taliban shot education activist and schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai in Swat in 2012, Asif Ali Zardari, then president, frankly admitted to a delegation of the South Asia Free Media Association that he could do nothing to avenge her near-assassination. He said the political parties were not united over what the attempt on Malala’s life meant for Pakistan, and that the extremists ready to side with Al Qaeda were too strong and widespread. Pakistan was not yet ready, he said, for the extremist blowback from a military operation in North Waziristan.

Clearly, this was coming from what Zardari had been told by the Army chief, Kayani. What he couldn’t say, although he must have been aware of it, was that the military was encountering problems purging its ranks of elements converted or sympathetic to Al Qaeda. Two years later, Gen. Raheel Sharif proved his predecessor wrong with Operation Zarb-e-Azb. The offensive has effectively curtailed Al Qaeda’s terrorist outreach and opened up the possibility of the internal cleanup of the Armed Forces.

With General Sharif in charge, the prospect of definitively tackling terrorism appears promising. The reason is not far to seek: given that Pakistan is self-confessedly a national-security state, the Army calls some major shots in policymaking. The failure of AQIS in hijacking PNS Zulfiqar, which would have put Pakistan on the wrong side of both India and the U.S., owes in no small part to the clarity the new Army chief has brought with him.

Under Sharif’s proactive stance, it has been discovered that the jihadist infrastructure can be dismantled. The problem had previously been deliberately or unknowingly misdiagnosed. It was incorrect of the old brass to assert that terrorism radiating from jihadist desperados was for the police alone to tackle. It is no use facing outward, to deter India, when the trouble within has in various ways been connected to military strategy.

The Army must delink itself from the state’s textbook nationalist narrative and come to terms with the new world order, in which Pakistan lives and has to make progress. Much of what needs to be done has been discussed in Crossed Swords: Pakistan, Its Army, and the Wars Within by Shuja Nawaz, brother of the late Army chief Gen. Asif Nawaz.

Is the Pakistani civilian mind militarized by the dominance of the Army or by the history of the people who formed Pakistan? Does Pakistani nationalism postpone the civilianizing of the Pakistani mind or is it the Army that pulls Pakistan toward the collective dream of a “winnable” and “just war” with India? The phenomenon of the “Islamic soldier” who heroically questions the legitimacy of Pakistan’s foreign-policy clinch with the U.S. ends up enlarging the challenge of the Army’s mission statement, making it potentially adventurist. The mission statement must change from its India-centric charter, which ignores, if not opposes, regional economic cooperation.

The period of the Kashmir jihad saw remarkable economic recovery in India and sharp economic decline in Pakistan. The fixed “national interest” of Pakistan had to be modified, but was not. Religion, instead of being Pakistan’s ideology, became the force that increasingly challenged and defeated the writ of the state.

Today, by turning inward and launching Zarb-e-Azb, the Army has earned the gratitude of all Pakistanis and the world at large. The Navy was able to stand up to Al Qaeda’s latest attack in Karachi because of the change in the balance of terrorist power in the country. This change is nowhere more visible than in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, the province most crippled by terrorism, which has returned to relative peace and calm.

The purge of unwanted elements from the military was not unknown in the past. An FIA officer getting close to the Al Qaeda spoor in the investigation into the assassination of Benazir Bhutto was killed by an Al Qaeda agent, who was also the son of a brigadier fired from the Army for his radical links. In the wake of the new environment created by Zarb-e-Azb, the purge must be deep-cutting and broad. The state must assert its power against militancy to prevent the peaceful citizen from losing faith in its capacity to secure him against criminal behavior.

5 Pakistan Navy officers to hang for conspiring to hijack naval ship

[AQIS claims plot to strike US warships was executed by Pakistani Navy officers]

5 Pakistan Navy officers to hang for conspiring to hijack naval ship

daily pakistan

Ali Zain

Pakistan-Navys-PNS-Alamgir-and-Kuwait-Navy-to-hold-joint-exercise3
KARACHI (News Desk) – As many as five officers of the Pakistan Navy have been sentenced to death for planning and orchestrating an attack at the naval dockyards on September 6, 2014, and attempting to hijack the Pakistan Navy warship PNS Zulfiqar.

The case was heard by a Navy Tribunal, which concluded hearings in April this year and handed out the deayh sentence to the accused, including Irfanullah, Mohammad Hammad, Arsalan Nazeer, Hashim Naseer and Hammad Ahmed.

During the hearing, the accused were tried for mutiny, hatching a conspiracy and carrying weapons in the navy dockyard. They have also been accused of having links with the Middle-Eastern terrorist group, the Islamic State.

All of them have been shifted to Karachi Central Jail, after the hearing was concluded at an undisclosed location.

Talking to newsmen, the legal counsel of Sub-Lieutenant Hammad Ahmed, Advocate Inaam, said that naval officials had not specified details of the crime, trial and the punishment, He added that once these details were provided, his client would file an appeal at the Naval Appeal Court.

The group of radicalized navy officers had attacked the naval dockyard on September 6, 2014, attempting to take over sensitive installations at the base.

The attack was thwarted by security forces. Two of the attackers were killed by forces while four were arrested alive. Those killed were later identified as serving sub-lieutenants of Pakistan Navy.

Pakistan Claims It Arrested 6 Afghan Agents In Balochistan

Six agents of Afghan intelligence arrested in Balochistan

business recorder

image

QUETTA: Pakistani intelligence agencies have arrested six trained agents of Afghanistan’s intelligence agency who were involved in targeted killings, bomb blasts and killing 40 people in Pakistan.

This was disclosed by Balochistan Home Minister, Mir Sarfaraz Bugti who along with senior officials was addressing a press conference, here on Thursday evening.

He said, “Our intelligence and security agencies have successfully arrested six agents of Afghanistan’s intelligence agency who have confessed their involvement in killing 40 innocent people, targeted killing, bomb blast and other heinous crimes in Pakistan, particularly in Balochistan province.”

He said that these Afghan agents in guise of Afghan refugees entered Pakistan and lived in Afghan refugee camps.

“We hosted Afghan refugees but the agents of Afghanistan’s intelligence agency stabbed our back by killing innocent Pakistani people in targeted killing and bomb explosions,” he said.

He said that both Indian intelligence agency, RAW and Afghan intelligence agency, NDS were jointly involved in acts of terror in Balochistan and other parts of the country.

“RAW and NDS jointly got their agents entered into Pakistan who committed targeted killings of innocent people,” he said.

Narrating the details of the arrested Afghan agents, he said that Lt, Rozi Khan was serving officer of Afghan National Army and resident of Ghazni area of Afghanistan. “Rozi Khan had Pakistani national identity card and was living in Kuchlak area of Quetta,” he said.

The Home Minister further said that three army generals of Afghanistan’s intelligence agency, NDS including General. Momin, General. Naeem and General Malik were handling their agents to create unrest in Pakistan.

He said that Mehmood Khan and Asmat Khan the agents of NDS were involved in targeted killings in Pakistan.

During the press conference, a video was also screened before the journalists which was showing agents of NDS, confessing their heinous crimes which they committed in Pakistan.

He said that now Afghan refugees would have to repatriate back to their country, Afghanistan as saying their were creating several problems for Pakistan.

He urged all stakeholders to devise a strategy for repatriation of Afghan refugees.

Behind South China Sea tensions, U.S. tries to maintain domination over world issues

China Voice: Behind South China Sea tensions, U.S. tries to maintain domination over world issues

Xinhua net

Editor: Tian Shaohui

Photo taken on April 5, 2016 shows the lighthouse on Zhubi Reef of Nansha Islands in the South China Sea, south China. (Xinhua/Xing Guangli)

 

BEIJING, May 25 (Xinhua) — Interfering in the South China Sea dispute has demonstrated the United States‘ real intention of maintaining domination over global issues.

A number of military acts and diplomatic moves of the United States in recent months have laid bare its attempt to seek to preserve a footstep in the South China Sea dispute.

It increased close reconnaissance in this region, and its warships and military aircraft keep violating China’s territorial sea and airspace in the name of “freedom of navigation or overflight.”

China’s construction in the region is aimed at strengthening its defense and civilian capabilities. It has not undermined and will not undermine freedom of navigation in one of the busiest international sea routes.

But why does the United States want to poke its nose into the region? It’s not only about U.S. strategic supremacy there, but also maintaining its status of dominating global hot issues, in a bid to face the fancied threat from China’s rise.

In his article published in The Washington Post on May 2, U.S. President Barack Obama said the United States, not China, should write rules. Even though the article was on the topic of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, it is clear evidence that making sure China abides by U.S.-made rules has always been a major target in the country’s China policy.

However, China’s increasing say in the international rule-making process and growing influence on regional order establishment have made the United States uncomfortable, pricking its fragile ego as a hegemonic power.

Therefore, the key of Washington increasing military presence in the South China Sea and sowing discord among regional countries has been a show of force to demonstrate its predominance in regional and global affairs.

China is capable and confident of working with the countries directly involved to solve territorial disputes through peaceful negotiations. Meanwhile, China will take all necessary measures as needed in response to threats to regional stability.

And more importantly, China does not need the United States, an outside party, to solve the issue, nor does it need others to set the rules. It looks like the United States, the global sheriff, is going to lose face.

Washington needs to keep in mind the United States and China, as two major powers, have more to benefit from good interactions within the Asia-Pacific region.

As an effort to fulfill the two sides’ commitment of building a new type of major-country relations that features win-win cooperation, the United States should stop meddling in the South China Sea issue, and meet China halfway to promote peaceful settlement.

ISIS ‘Disappeared’ From Fallujah Outskirts Ahead of Offensive–Resident

Battle for Fallujah Intensifies as Government Troops Advance0:40

ISIS fighters who’d occupied the outskirts of Fallujah have melted away ahead of an Iraqi government offensive to retake the city, according to a villager who recently fled the area.

Farmer Alaa Abdulrahman told NBC News that the 40-odd ISIS militants “all disappeared suddenly” from Albu Jassem village in northern Fallujah province.

“They cannot go back to Fallujah proper because the city is surrounded by Iraqi forces from all directions,” the father-of-five added in a telephone interview.

Abdulrahman, 45, described the perilous nighttime journey his family was forced to take after Iraqi officials ordered residents to evacuate on Sunday.

Image: IRAQ-CONFLICT
Iraqi pro-government fighters take part in an operation in al-Shahabi, east of the city of Fallujah, on Tuesday. Ahmad Al-Rubaye / AFP – Getty Images

“While we were walking out of our village, we were not sure that we would do it, because we know ISIS militants planted many IEDs in the roads,” he said. He and his family are now in a refugee camp some 20 miles south of Fallujah.

The operation to retake Fallujah, some 45 miles west of the Iraqi capital Baghdad, has been supported by U.S. airstrikes.

Related: Iraqi Forces ‘Liberate’ Villages From ISIS in Fallujah Offensive

The majority Sunni capital was Iraq’s first city to fall to ISIS in January 2014. Retaking it promises to be a major challenge for the country’s beleaguered security forces.

“It is not going to be an easy fighting at all,” according to Isa al-Isawi, the chairman of Fallujah’s local council who has been living in a refugee camp with other residents since ISIS took the city. “We heard from people who escaped from the city how ISIS militants are prepared for this battle. Peaceful locals are the only victims of this fighting.”

“I’m afraid ISIS is going to use [Fallujah residents] as human shields to prevent the Iraqi forces from retaking the city,” he added.

Some 100 families, or around 600 people, have managed to leave the city, according to Al-Isawi. Many Iraqis are suspicious of civilians who have only recently fled the area assuming they are ISIS sympathizers.

Iraqi Forces Launch Offensive on ISIS Stronghold0:49

Fallujah was a center of the insurgency led by the ISIS’s predecessor, al Qaeda in Iraq, before the U.S. withdrawal in 2011. More than 100 U.S. troops died and another 1,000 were wounded fighting insurgents in house-to-house battles in 2004.

Government officials recently estimated 10,000 families were in the city, the U.N. refugee agency said Tuesday. The UNHCR warned aid has not reached city since nearby Ramadi was captured in December, cutting off supply routes and preventing civilians from leaving.

The Fallujah assault is the first major urban offensive since Iraqi forces ran ISIS out of Ramadi. In spite of being declared a victory, Ramadi is largely uninhabitable thanks to ISIS explosives and a campaign of airstrikes that destroyed thousands of homes and building.

The Double-Death of Mullah Mansour and the Recrowning of New Taliban King Haibatullah

[Nothing does more to clarify the real Taliban situation than a good leader decapitation strike, like the latest drone strike near Quetta, which allegedly killed Mullah Mansour.  The story of the Afghan Taliban is really a media phenomenon, which is based completely upon leaks to the press, or allegedly given to the press, intended to control the international narrative on Afghanistan. 

Sometimes, press reports contradict each other, like the two articles posted below, which are essentially the same report, though given on the two separate occasions, of the killing of Mullah Mansour, one by gunfight, the other by drone.  Both reports reveal the same successor to Mansour, Mullah Haibatullah.  The first report on the passing of Mansour and the crowning of Haibatullah comes from Pajhwok press in Kabul.  It is also the only report featuring photos of the actual Taliban celebration.  That report reveals that Mansour was killed in early December, last year.  The world press, or else the controllers of the world press, needed to keep Mansour’s image alive after his death, just as they needed to keep the dead Mullah Omar alive, in order to control the Taliban fighters until succession is accepted by them and absorbed by the media-shapers. 

So often we have read of the double-deaths of important Taliban or other militant Islamist leaders, throughout the war on terror, in all of its secret battle grounds.  This is a bi-product of America’s “proactive counterterrorism” program, shaping the terror war through the control of Islamist leadership, double-kills of terrorist leaders who are no longer useful.  Double-deaths of Islamist militant leaders is much like the incident of “deja vu” in the first Matrix movie, where Neo sees the black cat twice and we learn that this indicates the controllers manipulating the plot line.

This seems to confirm the point I keep making over and over in my own critiques of the terror war, that most of it is illusion, either outright play-acting by proxy militants, or simply false reporting, using the names of familiar militants.  Sometimes the false reports contradict each other, necessitating the burying of old Internet reports, so that the new improved narratives can be put into play. 

I have noted these contradictory reports often, on multiple militant lives, including the most notorious example, that of the double-deaths of the Jordanian militant leader, Abu Musab Zarqawi, who reportedly first died in the second Chechen war, fighting alongside another terrorist icon, known as Ibn al-Khattab.  This leads me to the conclusion that very little, to none, of the terror war reporting is true.  All reports which we see or hear are lies reinforcing other lies, so that know one knows what to believe.  Believe this…the CIA has been hiding, or covering-up killings of important people since the killing of President Kennedy. 

Such is our world.]

Afghan Taliban Appoint New Leader After Mansour’s Death

abcnews_logo_v2

By lynne o’donnell and mirwais khan, associated press
KABUL, Afghanistan  May 25, 2016

The Afghan Taliban confirmed on Wednesday that their leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour was killed in a U.S. drone strike last week and that they have appointed a successor — a scholar known for extremist views who is unlikely to back a peace process with Kabul.

The announcement came as a suicide bomber struck a minibus carrying court employees in the Afghan capital, killing at least 11 people, an official said. The Taliban promptly claimed responsibility for the attack.

In a statement sent to the media, the Taliban said their new leader is Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada, one of Mansour’s two deputies. The insurgent group said he was chosen at a meeting of Taliban leaders, which is believed to have taken place in Pakistan, but offered no other details.

Mansour was killed in Pakistan on Saturday when his vehicle was struck by a U.S. drone plane, an attack believed to be the first time a Taliban leader was killed in such a way inside Pakistani territory.

Pakistani authorities have been accused both by Kabul and the West of giving shelter and support to some Taliban leaders — an accusation that Islamabad denies. The insurgents have been fighting to overthrow the Kabul government since 2001, when their own Islamist regime was overthrown by the U.S. invasion.

The United States and the Afghan government have said that Mansour had been an obstacle to a peace process, which ground to a halt when he refused to participate in talks with the Afghan government earlier this year. Instead, he intensified the war in Afghanistan, now in its 15th year.

Mansour had officially led the Taliban since last summer, when the death of the movement’s founder, the one-eyed Mullah Mohammad Omar became public. But he is believed to have run the movement in Mullah Omar’s name for more than two years. The revelation of Mullah Omar’s death and Mansour’s deception led to widespread mistrust, with some senior Taliban leaders leaving the group to set up their own factions.

Some of these rivals fought Mansour’s men for land, mostly in the opium poppy-growing southern Taliban heartland.

Senior Taliban figures have said Mansour’s death could strengthen and unify the movement, as he was in some ways a divisive figure. The identity of his successor was expected to be an indication of the direction the insurgency would take, either toward peace or continued war.

Akhundzada is a religious scholar who served as the Taliban’s chief justice before his appointment as a deputy to Mansour. He is known for issuing public statements justifying the existence of the extremist Taliban, their war against the Afghan government and the presence of foreign troops in Afghanistan. His views are regarded as hawkish, and he could be expected to continue in the aggressive footsteps of Mansour, at least in the early days of his leadership.

He was close to Mullah Omar, who consulted with him on religious matters. A convincing orator, Akhunzada was born in Kandahar — the capital during the Taliban’s 1996-2001 regime.

A member of the Noorzai tribe, he is said to be aged around 50 years, and comes from a line of religious scholars. He leads a string of madrassas, or religious schools — figures in the Taliban say up to 10 — across Pakistan’s southwestern Baluchistan province.

A former foreign minister under the Taliban, Mullah Mohammad Ghous, told The Associated Press that the choice of Akhundzada was “a very wise decision.” Akhundzada was well respected among Taliban of all ranks, and could be a unifying force for the fractured movement, Ghous said.

Wednesday’s statement said two new deputies had also been appointed — both of whom had earlier been thought to be the main contenders for the top job.

One of them is Sirajuddin Haqqani, who was also one of Mansour’s deputies and who leads the notorious Haqqani network — the faction behind some of the most ferocious attacks in Afghanistan since the war began in 2001. The other is the son of Mullah Omar, Mullah Yaqoub, who controls the Taliban military commissions for 15 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces.

Akhundzada’s appointment came as a surprise to some, including Ghous, who said that despite not being a top contender but a “third candidate,” the new leader would rise above any personal animosity or conflict that might have arisen should either Haqqani or Yaqoub have been chosen.

The Taliban statement called on all Muslims to mourn Mansour for three days, starting from Wednesday. It also attempted to calm any qualms among the rank and file by calling for unity and obedience to the new leader.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, who took office in 2014, assiduously courted Pakistan in an effort to bring the Taliban into a dialogue that would lead to peace talks. Mansour, however, refused, choosing instead to intensify the war once the international combat mission drew down to a training and support role in 2015.

In an unusual move, exiled Afghan warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar who heads the militant Hezb-i-Islami group, offered condolences to Mansour’s family, according to Mullah Hameedullah, a member of the Taliban’s religious council.

“Hekmatyar said he will offer prayers for Mullah Akhtar Mansour’s soul,” Hameedullah said.

Hekmatyar — who is on U.S. and United Nations blacklists, as was Mansour — has agreed to a tentative peace deal with the Afghan government that could see him return to Kabul in the coming months. Officials and Hekmatyar’s representatives have said that the truce, which is yet to be signed by the two parties, could serve as a template for a future deal with the Taliban to end the war.

Associated Press writers Rahim Faiez in Kabul, Afghanistan, contributed to this story.

Mullah Haibatullah appointed as Taliban’s acting supreme leader

Pajhwok

Dec 05, 2015

KABUL (Pajhwok): Mullah Haibatullah has been nominated as new Taliban supreme leader after the killing of Mullah Akhtar Mansoor, says a source close to the militant movement.

Mansoor was reportedly killed during a shootout between Taliban leaders during a meeting in Quetta last week. But the outlawed movement has rejected the claim as fabricated.

The firefight that took place in Kachlak has been confirmed by the first-vice president’s spokesman, Sultan Faizi. Taliban official Mullah Abdullah Sarhadi, a former governor, and five others were also killed in the gunfire exchange.

Requesting not to be named, the source told Pajhwok Afghan News Haibatullah had been appointed Mullah Mansoor’s successor at an emergency meeting attended by senior militant leaders.

He said the Taliban had informed all shadow governors, district chiefs and military commanders that Mansoor would take up to eight months to recovery from his injuries, and that Haibatullah would serve as acting Taliban leader.

Mansoor’s death is being kept under wraps, as its confirmation could undermine the movement’s morale, according to the source, who believed the Taliban were unlikely to make a public announcement in this regard.

On the other hand, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid vehemently denied Haibatullah’s appointment as the movement’s acting head.

Afghanistan Sponsoring Guantanamo Taliban Mullah Rasoul?

mullah-rasoul-23-may-16

The Afghan government is providing military and financial support to a breakaway Taliban faction, said some Afghan and U.S coalition officials.

According to a Wall Street Journal report, government is doing this to sow rifts within the group and nudge it towards peace talks.

The report stated several senior Afghan and U.S diplomatic, military and intelligence officials, described the program details and said resources provided by the U.S were being used to support it.

The Wall Street Journal stated that the Afghan intelligence agency was leading the move to recruit new Taliban assets. This agency is reportedly funded by the U.S and is mentored by the CIA.

When asked to comment, the CIA declined.

According to the report, Afghan and U.S officials said the program’s goal was to exploit divisions that came in the wake of the announcement of the Taliban’s supreme leader, Mullah Omar’s, death last year.

The officials told the newspaper that the program targets Zabul, Helmand, Paktika, Farah and Herat provinces, where insurgents, unhappy with the Taliban leadership under Mullah Mansour, defected to Mullah Mohammad Rassoul’s faction.

According to officials, Rassoul’s faction and other splinter groups have been getting cash, ammunition and weapons from the Afghan government.

However, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s deputy spokesman Sayed Zafar Hashemi rejected these claims.

“The Afghan government does not support any Taliban groups and we categorically reject such claims as baseless,” he said.

The Wall Street Journal meanwhile quoted the Taliban as saying that a rival Taliban faction as well as Pakistan was spreading propaganda linking them to the government.

“We do not receive any assistance from the government and we have no relationship with them,” said Mawlawi Ghulam Mohammad Hotak, a commander under Rassoul.

The report stated that the U.S-led force in Afghanistan also denied meeting or supporting any members of the group.

A coalition spokesman said in response to queries about coalition resources and facilities being used to assist Rassoul’s group it was “possible that the breakaway Taliban factions have been able to acquire some” weapons or other equipment, but they weren’t given to the insurgents “directly or indirectly.”

But Afghan officials familiar with the program reportedly said they are willing to run such risks if the potential outcome is a weakened Taliban.

“It’s a game. The tactics of war: Sometimes a friend, and sometime a foe,” said a senior Afghan Special Forces battalion commander who has been involved in supporting Rassoul’s faction. “We are military people. We execute orders.”

The Taliban was thrown into complete disarray in July last year when news emerged that Mullah Omar, the group’s leader, had in fact been dead for two years. Refusing to accept his successor, Mullah Mansour, a number of high-ranking members split from the group.

Rassoul was one who broke away and formed his own group – which is believed to be the largest of the splintered groups.

Jihadi Leaders Predict A Further Rift Among Taliban

atta-24-may-16

A number of prominent Jihadi leaders on Tuesday said they foresee further rifts developing among the Taliban, following the death of their leader Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour.

The analysts said they believe that a number of Mansour’s followers will likely mount terrorist attacks in a bid to give the impression that their leader’s death has not affected their activities.

Acting Balkh governor Atta Mohammad Noor said that according to his assessment, Taliban, after the death of their leader, would increase their activities in parts of the country, but further ruptures will appear among the group in the near future.

“Attacks will be likely launched in parts of the country to bring the issue of Mansour’s death under shadow… A number of Taliban fighters may join Mullah [Mohammad] Rassoul, some may join Daesh, others may go with Uzbekistan Islamic Movement or the East Turkistan Islamic Movement,” Noor said as he commented on Taliban’s future after the death of their leader.

He added: “A number of Taliban fighters may remain with the new leadership which would be appointed by them. Some of them [Taliban fighters] may decide to surrender to the Afghan government.”

Political figures meanwhile said they doubt Mansour died Saturday in a U.S drone strike and said they believe the leader was killed six months ago, but that his death was announced on this day in order to cancel a possible meeting between President Ashraf Ghani and the political commission of the Taliban in Qatar.

Ghani left Kabul for Qatar on Saturday, the same day as the U.S drone strike targeting Mansour took place.

“When President Ghani left for Qatar, he most probably was going to talk to the political commission of the Taliban, but news of Mansour’s death was spread to disrupt the meeting and it is a crime against the people of Afghanistan,” said Sayed Eshaq Gailani, head of the National Solidarity Movement of Afghanistan.

“Now government should not care about the foreigners and should directly contact the Taliban,” he added.

He said he believes that former Taliban supreme leader Mullah Mohammad Omar’s son, Mullah Yaqub might step into Mansour’s shoes to lead the Taliban.

Meanwhile, Speaker of the Meshrano Jirga (Upper House of Parliament) Fazl Hadi Muslimyar called Taliban slaves of Pakistan and said they should renounce violence and join the peace process.

“As an Afghan, I want to say that Taliban are the slaves of Pakistan. Pakistan has tied them up, set them on fire, kills them and takes money from foreigners on them. I seriously call on them [Taliban] to come and join peace,” he said.

Political analysts said they believe that the United States should not stop at only killing Mansour; instead, it should continue its combat against Taliban and al-Qaeda in Pakistan.

U.S. Support for Al Qaeda-Linked Rebels Undermines Syrian Ceasefire

Michael Hughes Foreign Policy Analyst

The United States needs to do more than wag its finger at Syrian rebel groups for “comingling” with Al Qaeda-affiliated Salafist jihadists or else an already tenuous ceasefire accord between government and opposition forces is destined to collapse.

 

Earlier this week, the International Syrian Support Group (ISSG) co-chaired by the U.S. and Russia agreed to render persistent violators of the ceasefire as “fair game” on the battlefield, relegating them to the same status as the Islamic State and Jabhat-al Nusra, or the Nusra Front, which is Al Qaeda’s franchisee in Syria.

On Tuesday, State Department spokesperson John Kirby expressed concerns that U.S.-backed Syrian opposition factions such as Ahrar al-Sham have been cohabitating with the Nusra Front. However, Washington has doggedly resisted calls to add the Al Qaeda collaborators to the UN terrorist list – claiming it would damage the ceasefire – which journalist Finian Cunningham sees as an “unwitting U.S. admission” about who is really leading the Syrian “rebellion.”

Ahrar al-Sham along with Jaysh al-Islam, another Western-sponsored faction, not only have zero inclination to respect the ceasefire, they have aspirations that completely contradict the U.S. stated goal of ushering in a Jeffersonian democracy to replace Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Both organizations, according to University of Ottawa extremism specialist Kamran Bokhari, share the common goal of instituting an Islamic state governed by sharia law. Further, Bokhari argues, the real reason the U.S. opposes designating them as terrorists is because they are proxy groups supported by American allies Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Hence, it has nothing to do with concerns about the ceasefire.

Moreover, on May 12, according to the pro-opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Ahrar al-Sham collaborated with the Nusra Front in an assault on the Alawite-majority village of al-Zara, killing at least 19 civilians, including women and children. Point being, the attack provided clear evidence that Ahrar al-Sham is doing more than intermingling with Al Qaeda’s Syria branch.

Three days later, The New York Times reported that Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri plans to create an alternate headquarters in Syria to “lay the groundwork for possibly establishing an emirate through Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, the Nusra Front,” which some experts claim complicates Washington’s support for the rebels even further.

“The United States has placed itself in a very difficult situation because many of the rebel groups that it wants to become principal holders of state power in Syria work hand and glove with Al Qaeda,” University of Oklahoma Center for Middle East Studies Director Joshua Landis told Sputnik on Monday.

Islamists are not only leading the Syrian opposition’s charge on the military front, they are dominating its role in the peace talks in Geneva as well. The rebel political delegation is being led by Jaysh al-Islam and other Islamist parties while the secular Syrian Kurds have been excluded, a surreal development fully sponsored by the United States.

During the early stages of the intra-Syrian talks in January, Washington Kurdish Institute Director of Media and Policy Yousuf Ismael said without the Kurds the creation of an Islamic system of government in Syria was inevitable based on the current constitution of the opposition’s High Negotiations Committee (HNC).

Even more disconcerting is the lack of outrage or any major objections to U.S. policy emanating from either Congress, the media or the public at large. American media outlets, including CNN, the Associated Press and the Washington Post, among others, have consistently propagated the fictional narrative that the United States is supporting “moderate opposition forces” on the battlefield and in the peace talks in Geneva. Not to mention the media’s primary focus has been on Syrian government ceasefire violations with little attention paid to opposition transgressions.

Secretary of State John Kerry has long claimed that the United States is committed to seeing a “whole, unified, pluralistic, nonsectarian Syria,” which is hard to believe given the State Department’s objection to classifying these two organizations as what they truly are: jihadist terrorist groups that should be excluded from any cessation of hostilities.

Which prompts a fair question that goes beyond simply upholding a fragile ceasefire: How in the world does the U.S. government believe for a second that a post-Assad regime in Syria will be secular to any degree based on the current makeup of the opposition’s negotiating team, whose members by and large have openly proclaimed that they want to establish an Islamist state?

The unfortunate answer is that the U.S. government has never absorbed the lessons of previous policies based on the credo, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Washington is following the exact same playbook employed during the jihad against the Soviets in the 1980s, in just one example, wherein we supported the most radical and virulently anti-Western factions within the mujahideen to achieve geopolitical ends at all costs, leading to the well-documented blowback known as Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda.

Despite all this, Washington’s love for jihadists has apparently not waned. As a result, the tragic irony is we are now facilitating the resurgence of these very same elements – in some cases literally the same figures – all in the name of a secular and unified Syria.

Terrorist bombings in Tartous and Jableh constitute serious escalation by Riyadh, Ankara, and Doha

Syria: Terrorist bombings in Tartous and Jableh constitute serious escalation by Riyadh, Ankara, and Doha

syrian-radio-and-tv

The Syrian Foreign and Expatriates Ministry sent two identical letters to the UN Secretary-General and the head of the Security Council regarding the terrorist bombings that took place in the cities of Tartous and Jableh on Monday.
In the letters, the Ministry said that terrorists targeted the cities of Tartous and Jableh with 4 car bombs and 3 suicide bombers wearing explosive belts, with terrorists detonating one car bomb at the main bus station in Tartous, followed by two suicide bombers with explosive belts carrying out attacks, one inside the bus station and the other in a nearby residential neighborhood. “Ahrar al-Cham” terror organization claimed responsibility for these attacks.
The letters went on to say that at the same time, terrorists detonated three car bombs in Jableh city; two targeted the main bus station in the city at the same time, while the third attacked the Electricity Directorate, and after that a suicide bomber with an explosive belt carried out an attack at the entrance of the ER at Jableh National Hospital, exploiting the crowds there as the hospital was receiving injured victims of the car bomb attacks.
The Ministry said that these seven bombings claimed the lives of dozens of civilians and injured dozens more, most of them sustaining severe injuries, adding that most of the victims are women and children, and that the attacks also caused massive damage to properties, infrastructure, and nearby houses.
The Ministry asserted that these terrorist bombings constitute a serious escalation by the extremist and malicious regimes of Riyadh, Ankara, and Doha, and that they seek to undermine the efforts that aim at stopping the shedding of Syrian blood, and they also seek to derail the Geneva talks and the cessation of hostilities and truce arrangements, as well as turning attention away from the Syrian Arab Army’s achievements in the war against terrorism.
The Ministry stressed that certain states’ persistence in imposing a policy of silence on the Security Council regarding the heinous crimes committed by terrorist groups across Syria, and the refusal of those same states to have the Security Council take deterring, immediate, and punitive measures against the states and regimes and that support terrorism – particularly the regimes in Riyadh, Ankara, and Doha – inspires these regimes to continue directing their terrorist pawns in Syria to commit massacres against the Syrian people.
The Ministry added that this conduct also leads to destabilizing peace and security in the region and the world as terrorism is used as a tool for political extortion and pressure.
The letters noted that the refusal by the representatives of the US, France, Britain, and Ukraine at the Security Council to approve listing “Jaish al-Islam” and “Ahrar al-Cham among the Council’s list of terrorist organizations and entities, and their insistence on referring to these two terror organizations as “moderate armed opposition” confirms that these states and others are still adopting a policy of overlooking these terrorist organizations’ crimes, as well as showcasing these states’ lack of seriousness in combating terrorism.
The Ministry asserted that the Syrian government will not allow such terrorist crimes and massacres to dissuade it from fulfilling its duties in combating terrorism and working towards a political solution for the crisis in Syria through an intra-Syrian dialogue led by the Syrians themselves.
The letters concluded by demanding that the Security Council and the UN Secretary-General condemn these terrorist bombings immediately and sternly, in addition to demanding that the Security Council take deterring, immediate, and punitive measures against the states and regimes and that support terrorism, particularly the regimes in Riyadh, Ankara, and Doha, stop said states from supporting terrorism and tampering with international peace and security, and force them to comply with relevant Security Council resolutions.

Brit Press Claims Taliban Succession Meeting Underway

Afghan Taliban meet on succession as Obama confirms leader’s death

Senior Afghan Taliban figures met on Monday to agree on a successor to Mullah Akhtar Mansour, the leader of the militant movement who U.S. President Barack Obama confirmed had been killed in an American air strike at the weekend.

The Taliban have so far made no official statement on the fate of Mansour, who assumed the leadership only last year.

But senior members have confirmed that their main shura, or leadership council, has been meeting to discuss the succession in a bid to prevent factional splits from fragmenting the movement.

Obama, on a three-day visit to Vietnam, reiterated support for the Western-backed government in Kabul and Afghan security forces, and called on the Taliban to join stalled peace talks.

The president authorized the drone strike that killed Mansour in a remote region just on the Pakistani side of the border with Afghanistan on Saturday.

Pakistani authorities have said the drone strike was a violation of the country’s sovereignty and an official from the foreign ministry told the U.S. ambassador in Islamabad that the attack could “adversely impact” peace talks.

But reaction from Islamabad has otherwise been relatively muted and a number of questions remain over what exactly happened.

An undamaged Pakistani passport in the name of Wali Muhammad, which Pakistani authorities said contained a visa for Iran, was recovered next to the burned-out car at the scene of the attack and is believed to have belonged to Mansour.

But it is unclear what he may have been doing in Iran and why he was apparently travelling in Pakistan without a security detail.

A spokesman for the Iranian foreign ministry was quoted on state media denying that such an individual had crossed the border from Iran to Pakistan at the time in question.

“MILESTONE”

Calling the death “an important milestone”, Obama said Mansour had rejected peace talks and had “continued to plot against and unleash attacks on American and Coalition forces”.

“The Taliban should seize the opportunity to pursue the only real path for ending this long conflict – joining the Afghan government in a reconciliation process that leads to lasting peace and stability,” he said.

However, he stressed that the operation against Mansour did not represent a shift in U.S. strategy in Afghanistan or a return to active engagement in fighting, following the end of the international coalition’s main combat mission in 2014.

The U.S. currently has 9,800 troops in Afghanistan, divided between a NATO-led mission to train and advise local forces and a separate counter terrorism mission fighting militant groups such as Islamic State and al Qaeda.

A decision is expected later this year on whether to stick with a timetable that would see the number of troops cut to 5,500 by the start of 2017.

CAN TALIBAN UNITE?

The Taliban, which have previously rejected overtures to join talks with President Ashraf Ghani’s government, have been pushing Afghan security forces hard since the launch of their spring offensive in April.

The attack on Mansour has thrown the movement into disarray at least temporarily, but Afghan authorities have braced for an upsurge in violence as rival candidates position themselves to succeed him.

Although some individual Taliban members have been quoted in media reports saying that Mansour was killed, the group’s leadership, keenly aware of the need to limit splits, has not issued its own confirmation.

“The leadership is being very careful because one wrong step could divide the group into many parties like former mujahideen,” one Taliban official from the eastern province of Nangarhar said, referring to guerrilla leaders who fought the Soviets in the 1980s before splitting into warring factions.

Serious divisions emerged last year when it was confirmed that Mullah Mohammad Omar, the group’s founder, had been dead for two years, leaving his deputy Mansour in effective charge of the movement and open to accusations he deceived his commanders.

One senior member of the shura, which is based in the western Pakistani city of Quetta, said that the choice for the next leader appeared to be shaping around Mansour’s deputy, Sirajuddin Haqqani, or a member of the family of Mullah Omar, such as his son, Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob.

Haqqani, leader of an affiliated network blamed for a series of high-profile suicide attacks in Kabul, had the backing of Pakistan, while Yaqoob had support among members of the Afghan Taliban, the shura member said.

“We prefer someone from Omar’s family to put an end to all internal problems,” he said.

(Additional reporting by Samihullah Paiwand in Gardez, Jibran Ahmad in Peshawar, Rafiq Shezar in Jalalabad, Drazen Jorgic in Islamabad, Gul Yousafzai in Quetta and Syed Rasa Hassan in Karachi, Babak Dehghanpisheh in Beirut; writing by James Mackenzie; Editing by Mike Collett-White)

Was Muhammad Wali “Mullah Mansour”?

Muhammad Wali’s NIC had cost him heavy bribe: Sources

dunya news DUNYA

Wali MuhammadMullah-Mansour MULLAH MANSOUR
Law enforcement agencies have started investigation about the matter

QUETTA (Dunya News) – Sources indicate that Muhammad Wali, who died yesterday (Sunday) as the result of an American drone strike on his car while he was travelling from Nushki to Quetta, had his name in the voter list of Chaman. However the locals claim that no one by the exact name resides in the area, reported Dunya News on Monday.

Muhammad Wali s name is present in the final voter list of the Chaman municipal committee next to serial number 38. His full name, Muhammad Wali son of Shah Muhammad, is present in the list along with his identification card number and residential address of Jadeed Abadi, Chaman, district Killa Abdullah. But his residence in Jadeed Abadi has yet not been traced as the locals state that no one by this name resides in the area.

Meanwhile, security agencies have initiated investigation regarding Muhammad Wali s National Identification Card and passport.

Wali s identification card has raised multiple questions over the performance of National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA). Sources have indicated that the identity card has been made after paying a heavy amount of bribe. Law enforcement agencies have started investigation about the matter.

Swarm of Suicide-Bombers Kill 100+ In Tartous and Jableh—Russian Navy Base Is In Tartous

Monitor says at least five suicide attacks and two car bombs hit Jableh and Tartous, which until now have escaped worst of conflict

Explosions in the Syrian city of Tartous.
Explosions in the Syrian city of Tartous. Photograph: SANA/Reuters

Bomb blasts have killed more than 100 people in the Syrian coastal cities of Jableh and Tartous, monitors said, in a government-controlled area that hosts Russian forces.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks in the Mediterranean cities, which have up to now escaped the worst of the conflict, saying it was targeting supporters of President Bashar al-Assad.

Scores were wounded in at least five suicide attacks and two car bombs, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said – the first assaults of their kind in Tartous, where government ally Russia maintains a naval facility, and Jableh.

State media confirmed the attacks but gave a lower death toll.

Fighting has increased in other parts of Syria in recent weeks as world powers struggle to revive a threadbare ceasefire in western Syria and after peace talks in Geneva this year broke down.

State media reported that a car bomb and two suicide bombers attacked a petrol station in Tartous. In Jableh, one of the four blasts hit near a hospital, state media and the Observatory reported.

Syria map

Footage broadcast by the state-run Ikhbariya news channel of what it said were scenes of the blasts in Jableh showed several twisted and incinerated cars and minivans. Pictures circulated by pro-Damascus social media users showed dead bodies in the back of pick-up vans and charred body parts on the ground.

The Syrian Observatory said at least 53 people were killed in Jableh, and 48 in Tartous.

The interior ministry said in a statement more than 20 people had been killed, and one state media outlet put the death toll at 45 people.

Bombings in the capital Damascus and western city Homs earlier this year killed scores and were claimed by Isis, which is fighting against government forces and their allies in some areas, and separately against its jihadi rival al-Qaida and other insurgent groups.

Russia, which intervened in the Syrian war in support of Assad last September, operates an air base at Hmeymim in Latakia and a naval facility at Tartous.

Latakia city, which is north of Jableh and capital of the province that is Assad’s heartland, has been targeted on a number of occasions by bombings and insurgent rocket attacks.

Pak Press Publishes Photos of Vehicle Struck By US Drones In Balochistan

Two charred bodies found in Balochistan near Pak-Afghan border

express tribune

People stand near a vehicle which came under attack by a US drone near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border on May 22, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

People stand near a vehicle which came under attack by a US drone near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border on May 22, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

QUETTA: Two charred bodies and remains of a car were found late on Saturday night from a remote area near Noshki district of Balochistan, which is close to the border with Afghanistan.

“One of the bodies was identified as Azam (driver) while the other was identified as Muhammad Wali, both Pakistani residents as per the documents recovered from them,” deputy commissioner Chaghi told The Express Tribune on Sunday.

The official further said residents of the area claim they heard the sound of a blast and gunfire late on Saturday night and later found the bodies in a vehicle which was travelling on the Quetta-Taftan highway near Noshki.

Earlier, the United States claimed to have targeted Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour and another militant in a drone strike near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border region, which reportedly killed them.

Afghanistan’s spy agency said  Mullah Akhtar Mansour was killed in a US bombing raid, the first confirmation from regional officials of his death, which marks a potential blow to the resurgent militant movement.

“Mansour was being closely monitored for a while… until he was targeted along with other fighters aboard a vehicle,” Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security said in a statement.

American officials on Saturday said Mansour was “likely killed” in the remote Pakistani town of Ahmad Wal in Balochistan province by multiple unmanned aircraft operated by US special forces.

Two Pakistani intelligence officials told AFP the drones struck a Toyota Corolla near the city of Quetta, killing two people whose bodies were burned beyond recognition.

They did not confirm whether Mansour was among them but said the bodies had been moved to a hospital in Quetta.

A member of the Quetta Shura, the Taliban’s leadership council, told AFP that Mansour had been unreachable on his mobile phone since Saturday night.

“We are not sure if something is really wrong or he purposely switched off his phone fearing an attack,” he told AFP on condition of anonymity.

In December, Mansour was reportedly wounded and possibly killed in a shootout at the house of another insurgent leader near Quetta. The Taliban eventually released an audio recording, purportedly from Mansour, to dispel the reports.

A US intelligence analyst said Mansour had been in a power struggle with Mullah Mohammad Rasoul, whose deputy, Mullah Dadullah, was killed late last year in what officials think was a fight with Mansour’s more hard-line faction.

US CENTCOM Chief Visits Syria Before Impending Invasion of Raqqa

Senior US commander secretly visits Syria to ‘prepare push to Raqqa’

Russia-Today

 

U.S. Army Gen. Joseph Votell. ©  Win McNamee / Getty Images / AFP
General Joseph Votel, head of US Centcom, talked over cooperation with Kurdish and Arab militant groups while on a secretive trip to Syria on Friday. The talks were said to involve coordinating the US-led coalition and rebels plans on recapturing Raqqa from Islamic State.
Read more

© Stringer

The news on the highly secretive visit to Syria broke only after Votel had returned to the US. During his 11-hour stay in the country he met with American advisers at a camp, located some 50 miles from the battleground, as well as with representatives of the Syrian groups who are being trained by the American military experts. Votel also talked to commanders of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

In the aftermath of the visit, Brett McGurk, the US special envoy to the coalition against Islamic State (IS, ISIS/ISIL), tweeted that one of the purposes of the clandestine trip was to prepare an offensive on Raqqa, IS terrorists’ stronghold in Syria since 2013.

Commenting on the current positions of the US-backed forces in Syria, Vogel stated that he “left with increased confidence in their capabilities and our ability to support them,” in an interview, cited by AP.

The existing model of cooperation between US and armed rebels fighting terrorists “is working and working well,” claimed the general.

Speaking about his primary motives behind the sudden visit, Vogel, however, did not specify any details that might explain its timing, while saying that it felt like an “imperative” to him to “see what they’re dealing with – to share the risk they are dealing with.”

AP cited Qarhaman Hasan, deputy commander of the SDF, as saying that the talks focused on the issues of US military support to rebel groups in the form of weaponry and equipment supplies.

“You can’t run an army on smuggling,” he said, adding that the they are “creating an army” and the necessity to smuggle the munitions severely hampers its operational capabilities.

General Vogel became the first military official of such a rank to appear in Syria since the onset of the US military operation against IS in 2014.
Vogel reportedly flew to Syria from Iraq on Friday in daylight. Although the circumstances surrounding the flight are not disclosed due to security concerns, it is believed to be the first time US forces’ representatives flew to Syria not under the cover of night.

Earlier, it is was reported the SDF is preparing to launch a decisive attack on Raqqa in the coming days. The operation is supposedly going to be backed by US-led coalition forces from air.

SDF representative Tackir Kobani said in an interview on Friday that Brett McGurk had visited Syria last week to discuss the “strategy to battle Daesh, in particular, for the liberation of Raqqa, Manbij and Jarabulus.” That makes Votel a second senior American official visiting Syria in the last two weeks.

Read more

© Amer Almohibany  

Army Gen. Joseph Votel was appointed the head of the US Central Command (Centcom) in March. The area of Centcom’s responsibility covers Northeast Africa as well as the Middle East and Central and South Asia.

Reports of an imminent siege of Raqqa come as Moscow has suggested that the US-led coalition joined forces with the Russian Air Force to strike militant groups that did not adhere to ceasefire plan. In particular, Al-Nusra Front terrorists and convoys of arms and militants crossing the Syrian-Turkish border were mentioned.

While the White House has already denied it would even consider a joint Russian-US air campaign, such move would at least partly legitimize the US presence in the country, as the proposal is said to have been agreed with Damascus in advance. The Syrian government has never given permission for any US-led military campaign in the country, making its airstrikes illegal by international law.

Mullah Mansour Reportedly Killed Again—This Time By Drone In Balochistan

[Funny, the way he was killed in near Quetta, Balochistan both times.  The killing of Mullah Mansour would open the door to negotiations with former Guantanamo prisoner, Mullah Rasoul, a.k.a., Mullah Nazir.  

“Pakistan has little control over the Taliban faction led by Mullah Rasoul. The group led by Mullah Rasoul is more interested to join the peace process”–Tolo News, A Look At Taliban’s Different Factions

With this first drone attack in Balochistan, the US seizes the initiative with controlling the Afghan Taliban, eliminating Pak ISI’s horse in this race.]

 

Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour ‘shot dead after argument in Pakistan’   —(Reportedly killed in the firefight in the Kuchlak area of Balochistan)

Kuchlak area of Balochistan, HQ for Mullah Akhtar Mansour Group  —(Mulla Mohammad Alam, Mullah Mansour’s top aid, was reported killed in Kuchlak)

US targeted Taliban emir Mullah Mansour in unprecedented Pakistan drone strike

Long war journal

The US military said it targeted and possibly killed Taliban emir Mullah Mansour today in an “airstrike” in a remote area along the “Afghanistan-Pakistan border region.” Mansour’s status is unknown and the military said it is attempting to determine if he is dead or alive.

“We are still assessing the results of the strike and will provide more information as it becomes available,” Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said in an official statement.

“Mansour has been the leader of the Taliban and actively involved with planning attacks against facilities in Kabul and across Afghanistan, presenting a threat to Afghan civilians and security forces, our personnel, and Coalition partners,” Cook said, offering justification for the strike. “Mansour has been an obstacle to peace and reconciliation between the Government of Afghanistan and the Taliban, prohibiting Taliban leaders from participating in peace talks with the Afghan government that could lead to an end to the conflict.”

Mansour officially replaced Mullah Omar, the founder of the Taliban, as the group’s emir in August 2015 when Omar’s death was disclosed. But Mansour has really been at the helm of the Taliban since April 2013, when Omar died and the Taliban kept his death secret for more than two years. Since taking the role of emir, Mansour fought and won a divisive power struggle against senior Taliban leaders who preferred Omar’s eldest son as heir to the group. Mansour led a deadly uprising that saw the resurgent Taliban gain more territory than any time since the US invasion in 2001.

It may take days for the US to receive physical confirmation of Mansour’s death, if at all possible. The Taliban has not issued an official statement announcing Mansour’s death. Voice of Jihad, the Taliban’s official website, has been offline most of the week.

While the Pentagon did not state the location of the airstrike which targeted Mansour, Reuters reported that it took place at 6 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time (3 p.m. local time) in the town of Ahmad Wal in Baluchistan province.

“Multiple US drones targeted the men as they rode in a vehicle in a remote area in Pakistan along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, southwest of the town of Ahmad Wal,” an unnamed official told the news agency.

US intelligence officials confirmed to The Long War Journal that the strike took place in Mansour’s home Baluchistan province.

A strike in Baluchistan is unprecedented and may signal a shift in US policy which previously confined drone strikes to Pakistan’s tribal agencies. This is the first reported strike by the US in Baluchistan, where the Taliban’s top leadership setup shop in Quetta. All of the other 391 drone and airstrikes reportedly executed by the US took place in Pakistan’s province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Only one other strike took place outside of the Federally Administered Tribal Agencies, according to data compiled by The Long War Journal. Of those 390 strikes that occurred in the tribal agencies, 280 took place in North Waziristan and 90 took place in South Waziristan.

Conducting a strike in Baluchistan raises questions whether or not the US sought permission from the Pakistani government to carry out the attack in an area other than North and South Waziristan. Mansour was believed to be operating under the auspices and protection of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate.

If Mansour is confirmed killed, one likely successor is Sirajuddin Haqqani, the leader of the al Qaeda-linked Haqqani Network which is also closely tied to the Taliban. Siraj is one of Mansour’s two deputies and serves as the Taliban’s overall military commander.

If Siraj replaced Mansour, he is even more unlikely than his predecessor to negotiate a peace agreement.The Taliban has insisted that only the return of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, the imposition of its harsh brand of sharia – or Islamic law – and the withdrawal of all Western forces is acceptable.

The Taliban released a statement last month sternly denying another senior leader – Mullah Adbul Qayoum Zakir, a former Guantanamo detainee – had called for negotiations with the Afghan government and the West. Although he might represent a coup for the US, Mullah Zakir is an unlikely successor to Mansour. And Zakir, who is also closely tied to al Qaeda, is just as committed to restoring the Taliban to power as Mansour and Siraj.

Two other possible successors include Omar’s eldest son, Mullah Mohammad Yaqoub, and Omar’s brother, Mullah Abdul Manan Akhund. Both were appointed to key Taliban leadership positions last month in the group’s executive council as a way to smooth over any lingering discontent. Omar’s kin opposed the appointment of Mansour and Yaqoub was rumored to have sought the seat to replace his father. It took nearly two months after the change in leadership for Yaqoub to swear allegiance to Mansour in September 2015.

By that point, it was already clear Mansour had navigated through turbulent times. In August 2015, Mansour accepted the oath of allegiance from al Qaeda emir Ayman Zawahiri, as well as pledges from “Jihadi organizations spread throughout the globe.” Mansour’s public acceptance of Zawahiri’s fealty above all others signaled the new face of the Taliban had no intention to break longstanding ties with al Qaeda. The reconciliation with Omar’s family was a final piece to the puzzle. His apparent unification of Taliban ranks did not keep Mansour out of the crosshairs, however. In December, Mansour released an audio statement denying reports of his death, which he said were floated by his enemies to divide his group.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of The Long War Journal.

 

India Tells China To Close-Up Shop In Kashmir

Srinagar , dna

India has formally asked China to stop the construction activities on the other side of Line of Control (LoC) in the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).

This follows reports of China being involved in construction and upgradation of numerous roads, bridges and hydro power projects in PoK. The Chinese links with Pakistan through PoK have lent credence to the Sino-Islamabad nexus, sparking security concerns for India.

“The government has conveyed its concerns to China…and asked them to cease such activities,” said Colonel SD Goswami, defence spokesman at Udhampur-headquartered Northern Command.

China’s Gezhouba Group Company Ltd has been building a Jhelum-Neelum 970MW hydel power project in PoK since 2007. The project is likely to be complete this year.

China is also constructing an all-weather road, connecting Karakoram Highway with Gilgit-Baltistan, and is also involved in a 46-billion dollar China-Pakistan economic corridor (CPEC), that will also pass through Karakoram Highway.

Barack Obama and a quarter-century of US wars

Barack Obama and a quarter-century of US wars

 

world socialist

 

In a front-page article published on May 15, the New York Times calls attention to a significant milestone in the presidency of Barack Obama: “He has now been at war longer than Mr. Bush, or any other American president.” Obama overtook his predecessor on May 6. But with eight months still to go in the White House, he is on target to set yet another record. The Times writes: “If the United States remains in combat in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria until the end of Mr. Obama’s term—a near-certainty given the president’s recent announcement that he will send 250 additional Special Operations forces to Syria—he will leave behind an improbable legacy as the only president in American history to serve two complete terms with the nation at war.”

On the way to setting his record, Mr. Obama has overseen lethal military actions in a total of seven countries: Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. The list is expanding rapidly, as the United States escalates its military operations in Africa. The efforts to suppress the Boko Haram insurgency involve a buildup of US forces in Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger and Chad.

Mark Landler, the author of the Times article, notes Obama’s status as a Nobel Peace Prize winner in 2009 without any sense of irony. Rather, he portrays the president as “trying to fulfill the promises he made as an antiwar candidate…” Obama “has wrestled with this immutable reality [of war] from his first year in the White House…”

Landler informs his readers that Obama “went for a walk among the tombstones in Arlington National Cemetery before giving the order to send 30,000 additional troops into Afghanistan.” Landler recalls a passage from his 2009 speech accepting the Nobel Prize in which Obama wearily lamented that humanity needed to reconcile “two seemingly irreconcilable truths—that war is sometimes necessary, and war at some level is an expression of human folly.”

During the Obama years, folly has clearly held the upper hand. But there is nothing that Landler’s hero can do. Obama has found his wars “maddeningly hard to end.”

The recent death of Special Warfare Operator First Class Charles Keating IV in a firefight with ISIS forces has contradicted Obama’s account of what the US forces are doing in Iraq. The Times, choosing its words carefully, writes that Keating’s death “made the administration’s argument that the Americans were only advising and assisting Iraqi forces seem ever less plausible.” To state the matter bluntly, Obama has been lying to the American people.

Aside from its intrinsic dishonesty, the Times’ portrayal of Obama lacks the essential element required by genuine tragedy: the identification of the objective forces, beyond his control, that determined the actions of the president. If Mr. Landler wants his readers to shed a tear for this peace-loving man who, upon becoming president, made drone killings his personal specialty and turned into something akin to a moral monster, the Times correspondent should have attempted to identify the historical circumstances that determined Obama’s “tragic” fate.

But this is a challenge the Times avoids. It fails to relate Obama’s war-making record to the entire course of American foreign policy over the past quarter-century. Even before Obama entered office in 2009, the United States had been at war on an almost continuous basis since the first US-Iraq War of 1990-91.

The pretext for the first Gulf War was Iraq’s annexation of Kuwait in August 1990. But the violent US reaction to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s dispute with the emir of Kuwait was determined by broader global conditions and considerations. The historical context of the US military operation was the imminent dissolution of the Soviet Union, which was finally carried out in December 1991. The first President Bush declared the beginning of a “New World Order.”

The product of the first socialist revolution in 1917, the Soviet Union had functioned—especially following the conclusion of World War II in 1945—as a restraint on the deployment of American military power. Moreover, the victory of the Chinese Revolution in 1949—which, in historical terms, was bound up with the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution in Russia—placed further obstacles in the path of US imperialism.

The Stalinist regimes pursued essentially nationalistic policies, and systematically undermined and betrayed working-class and anti-imperialist movements all over the world. But to the extent that the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China provided limited political and material support to anti-imperialist movements in the “Third World,” it denied the US ruling class a free hand in the pursuit of its own interests. These limitations were demonstrated—to cite the most notable examples—in the US defeats in Korea and Vietnam, the compromise settlement of the Cuban missile crisis, and the acceptance of Soviet domination of the Baltic region and Eastern Europe.

In the final analysis, the existence of the Soviet Union and an anti-capitalist regime in China deprived the United States of the possibility of unrestricted access to and exploitation of the human labor, raw materials and potential markets of a large portion of the globe—including, and especially, much of the Eurasian land mass. It also compelled the United States to compromise to a degree greater than it would have preferred in negotiations over economic and strategic issues with its major allies in Europe and Asia, as well as with smaller countries that exploited the tactical opportunities provided by the US-Soviet Cold War.

The dissolution of the Soviet Union, combined with the unrestrained restoration of capitalism in China following the Tiananmen Square massacre of June 1989, was seen by the American ruling class as an opportunity to carry out a massive restructuring of global geopolitics with the aim of establishing the hegemony of the United States. The overwhelming support for this operation within the elites arose from the belief that the United States could reverse the protracted erosion of its global economic position through the ruthless utilization of its overwhelming military power.

The Defense Policy Guidance drafted by the Department of Defense in February 1992 unambiguously asserted the hegemonic ambitions of US imperialism: “There are other potential nations or coalitions that could, in the further future, develop strategic aims and a defense posture of region-wide or global domination. Our strategy must now refocus on precluding the emergence of any potential future global competitor.”

The 1990s saw a persistent use of US military power, most notably in the dissolution of Yugoslavia. The brutal restructuring of the Balkan states, which provoked a fratricidal civil war, culminated in the US-led 1999 bombing campaign to compel Serbia to accept the secession of the province of Kosovo. Other major military operations during that decade included the intervention in Somalia (which ended in disaster), the military occupation of Haiti, the bombing of Sudan and Afghanistan, and repeated episodes of bombing attacks on Iraq.

The events of September 11, 2001 provided the opportunity for the launching of the “War on Terror,” a propaganda slogan that provided an all-purpose justification for military operations throughout the Middle East, Central Asia and, with increasing frequency, Africa. The military strategy of the United States was revised in line with the new doctrine of “preventive warfare,” adopted by the US in 2002. This doctrine, which violated existing international law, decreed that the United States could attack any country in the world that was judged to pose a potential threat—not only of a military, but also an economic character—to American interests.

The administration of the second President Bush ordered the invasion of Afghanistan in the autumn of 2001. In speeches that followed 9/11, Bush used the phrase “wars of the twenty-first century.” In this case, Bush spoke with great precision. The “War on Terror” was, from the beginning, conceived as an unending series of military operations all over the globe. One war would necessarily and inevitably lead to another. Afghanistan proved to be a dress rehearsal for the invasion of Iraq. The scope of military operations continuously widened. New wars were started while the old ones continued. The cynical invocation of human rights was used to wage war against Libya and overthrow the regime of Muammar Gaddafi. The same hypocritical pretext was employed to organize a proxy war in Syria. The consequences of these wars, in terms of human lives and suffering, are incalculable.

The strategic logic of the US drive for global hegemony has led to conflicts that extend beyond bloody neocolonial operations in the Middle East and Africa. The geopolitical ambitions of the United States have led to increasingly dangerous confrontations with China and Russia. In fact, the ongoing regional wars are becoming transformed into component elements of the rapidly escalating conflict of the United States and its European and Asian allies with Russia and China.

The New York Times provides not so much as a hint of the deeper objective causes, lodged in the contradictions of American and world imperialism, that made the Obama presidency a time of unending war. Nor does it forewarn its readers that the next administration, regardless of who occupies the White House—whether the president’s name is Clinton, Trump or, for that matter, Sanders—will offer not only more of the same, but much worse. The issue of war remains the “great unmentionable” in this election year.

But this silence must be broken. The alarm must be sounded. The working class and youth within the United States and throughout the world must be told the truth. If war is to be stopped and a global catastrophe averted, a new and powerful mass international movement, based on a socialist program and strategically guided by the principles of revolutionary class struggle, must be built.

David North

Why Has Obama Ended Afghanistan’s Air Support?

Take the Gloves Off Against the Taliban

 

Wall Street Journal

 

Incredibly, even though much U.S. blood and treasure was sacrificed in Afghanistan, we won’t bomb the militants trying to take over the country.

NATO-led International Security Assistance Force helicopters over Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan, in 2013. Photo: SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images
By David Petraeus and
Michael O’Hanlon

In any counterinsurgency campaign, foreign forces helping another country must strike a balance. They must wean local forces off their dependency on outside help as rapidly as possible. But they also must not rush the job and lose what has been gained along the way—especially when a part of their core mission is to build up the indigenous police and military forces to which they seek to pass the baton.

For 10 years U.S. leaders have understood the need for this delicate balancing act in Iraq and Afghanistan, though both the Bush and Obama administrations did, in certain cases, hand off to indigenous forces and draw down more rapidly than was advisable. We are at risk of doing that again now in Afghanistan.

The immediate issue is how we are using American and broader NATO air power. There is a great deal of it—many dozens of combat aircraft at bases from Helmand and Kandahar provinces in the south to the cities of Khost and Jalalabad in the east to the capital region of Kabul and points north. But we continue to handcuff those deploying these jets, helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles. Existing U.S. and NATO policy generally allows them to strike targets on the ground only when hostile forces can be identified as al Qaeda or ISIS loyalists, when they pose an imminent threat to NATO personnel, or, reportedly, when a strategic collapse is imminent.

The rules of engagement mean that the indigenous Afghan and Pakistani Taliban generally get a pass. Yet it was the Taliban that allowed al Qaeda the sanctuary in Afghanistan in which the 9/11 attacks were planned, and which presumably would make the Taliban a legitimate target under the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force.

And it is the Taliban that now seek to overthrow the unity government of President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah. They seek as well to jettison the progress in education and human rights that has been achieved since 2001. The Taliban also aim to cut off the cooperation with the international community that Afghanistan still so badly needs to recover from a generation of war.

This is the same group that also enjoys the sworn support of al Qaeda’s senior leadership—following al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri’s endorsement of the new head of the Afghan Taliban, Mullah Akhtar Mansour. And it is the same quasi-terrorist movement that, in alliance with the Haqqani network based in Pakistan, has recently carried out the horrific bombings in Kabul.

The Taliban have taken back large swaths of Helmand province and areas in eastern provinces such as Nangarhar and Kunar over the past several years. This happened after the sizable NATO troop drawdown that began in 2011 and that, by last year, had reduced the alliance’s strength in Afghanistan by some 90% relative to its peak. (Total foreign forces peaked at around 150,000 uniformed personnel in early 2011 and are now down to about 15,000.) The Taliban also seized the northern city of Kunduz, Afghanistan’s fifth largest, for a stretch last fall and may attempt a similar endeavor this year.

Yet the Taliban are not invincible. Though they took Kunduz, they were soon driven out by an Afghan-led operation. They do not hold any other major cities or major transportation arteries, though security on the “ring road” that connects the country’s major cities is again tenuous. The Taliban are broadly despised by the majority of the Afghan people. Without the sanctuaries they enjoy in Pakistan, it is doubtful that they could mount an organized threat to the country, even if they remained—in cahoots with drug dealers and other criminals—a threat to individual communities and citizens.

In other words, we have a real fight on our hands in Afghanistan, but not a hopeless one. And in this context, even modest U.S. and NATO military contributions have the potential to make a considerable difference.

Which brings us to the Obama administration’s policy that seeks to minimize U.S. and allied involvement in the war. Per this policy, NATO aircraft dropped only about 1,000 bombs in Afghanistan in 2015, very few against the Taliban. That was a fivefold reduction from the war’s peak level of activity. So far, 2016 looks similar, with 300 bombs dropped in the first three months.

These figures stand in contrast to what we are doing in Iraq and Syria. According to Pentagon data, we dropped 6,000 bombs there in 2014, almost 30,000 in 2015, and almost 7,000 in the first three months of this year. Modern air power—when combined with a suitable ally on the ground that can seize the advantage created by the bombing of enemy positions, camps and supply routes—is impressive. ISIS has lost about 40% of the territory it once held in Iraq and Syria and stands to lose more.

By contrast, while exact figures are hard to come by, a reasonable unclassified estimate is that the Taliban now hold 5% to 10% more of Afghanistan—as measured by the population under their influence—than they did a few years ago before the drawdown of allied forces. Civilian fatalities from the continuing war in Afghanistan, while still far less than in many battle zones (including Iraq and Syria), have been moving upward as well.

Some might reasonably ask, after 15 years of war in Afghanistan, why do we need to keep at it? The answer is simple—because Afghanistan, effectively the eastern bulwark in our broader Middle East fight against extremist forces, still matters. We went there to take away from al Qaeda the sanctuary in which the 9/11 attacks were planned. We have stayed to ensure that this remains the case.

And we also must remain for now to deny sanctuary to the nascent ISIS force in eastern Afghanistan. U.S. forces in-country today are far smaller than they were before, our casualties are relatively few, and the burden on our nation’s military as well as its checkbook is far less than it once was. But that doesn’t mean that we should allow the Taliban to regroup and turn back the clock on the progress.

When the international effort in Afghanistan began after 9/11, that country had been decimated by a generation of warfare in which we helped brave local fighters defeat the Soviet Union, only to see America and other Western powers desert the nation once Soviet forces were defeated and withdrawn. Thus, it is no surprise that the country, always poor and struggling even in the best of circumstances, will need more time to recover.

Bear in mind as well that for the first seven or eight years of this fight, we devoted very few American resources to the problem, even though Afghanistan didn’t have a sizable army or police force of its own. We only began to build up the Afghan air force seriously in the last two years or so.

This is because forging a viable Afghan army and police force were the more urgent tasks for the NATO mission once we finally did devote substantial resources to the fight, including at the time one of us commanded that operation in 2010-11. It will take perhaps two more years for the Afghan air force, still training pilots and still receiving aircraft, to reach its intended strength.

The bottom line is simple: While we also need to keep a focus on whether U.S. and NATO forces are adequate in size for the current mission, we need to take the gloves off those forces already in-country. Air power in particular represents an asymmetric Western advantage, relatively safe to apply, and very effective against massed (or even individual) enemy forces and assets.

Simply waging the Afghanistan air-power campaign with the vigor we are employing in Iraq and Syria—even dropping bombs at a fraction of the pace at which we are conducting attacks in those Arab states—will very likely make much of the difference between some version of victory and defeat.

Mr. Petraeus, a retired Army general, commanded coalition forces in Iraq (2007-08) and in Afghanistan (2010-11) and later served as director of the CIA (2011-12). Mr. O’Hanlon is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and director of research in its Foreign Policy program.

The Crime of Aggression

The State of Play on the Crime of Aggression

LAWFARE

By David Bosco
I’ve written here previously on the possible activation of the International Criminal Court’s jurisdiction over the crime of aggression. Twenty-eight of the requisite thirty countries have now ratified the amendments agreed to at the 2010 Kampala conference. It appears likely that the additional ratifications will arrive in a matter of months (Iceland, the Netherlands, Chile, and Senegal are among the countries that may push the amendment over the finish line). In following developments, however, I missed this illuminating debate between former U.S. State Department legal adviser Harold Koh and German academic Claus Kreß. Their exchange highlights several key dynamics.

First, Koh’s comments make clear that the United States remains deeply concerned about activation of the aggression amendments. Because the United States is not an ICC member, its senior officials will not be exposed to prosecuction. But Washington clearly worries that the specter of aggression prosecutions might dissuade close allies from participating in joint operations. And Koh suggests that the United States, working with like-minded ICC member states, will likely push for a full-blown review conference to resolve existing ambiguities. These issues include whether humanitarian intervention is adequately safeguarded from prosecution and whether the leaders of ICC member states that have not ratified the aggression amendments could still be subject to prosecution (there is a disagreement about what Article 121(5) of the Rome Statute means on that point). While a two-thirds vote of member states is all that is required to activate the amendments, skeptical states will likely argue that something this momentous should not proceed without consensus.

At a more conceptual level, the exchange between Koh and Kreß highlighted stubborn divisions about the importance of criminalizing aggression. Koh evinced no enthusiasm for prosecuting aggression and framed the issue mostly as a potential distraction from the ICC’s core mission: investigating and prosecuting mass atrocities. Echoing other U.S. officials, Koh sketched a scenario in which concern about aggression prosecutions prevents states from taking steps necessary to save lives.

Suppose it is determined that to establish a humanitarian corridor in Syria or to protect people in Aleppo from being barrel bombed by Assad you need to create a no fly zone within Syria which would [would not] receive a Security Council resolution because of a Russian veto. If your country allows a plane to take off to participate in that no fly zone, can your constitutional leader by subjected to the crime of aggression in due course? That’s a question. If you don’t know the answer to that question, it needs to be clarified and resolved.

For his part, Kreß insisted that aggression itself should be thought of as an atrocity crime, and he forcefully resisted the notion that prosecuting it is somehow less important than pursuing perpetrators of genocide, crimes against humanity, and serious war crimes. Even a conflict conducted fully within the laws of war, Kreß pointed out, kills people and shatters lives. Implicit in his view is the notion that armed conflict itself is the enemy, and that prosecuting those who initiate it is an essential task for the court. For all the apparent headway made at Kampala, the gap between these perspectives remains wide.

Seeing Humanity in ‘Enemy’ Eyes

[Human Nature Is the Enemy of the State]baghdad-shock-and-aweAt the start of the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, President George W. Bush ordered the U.S. military to conduct a devastating aerial assault on Baghdad, known as “shock and awe.”

Seeing Humanity in ‘Enemy’ States

consortium

Official Washington’s propagandistic view of the world sees “good guys” and “bad guys,” a simplistic and dangerous dichotomy that ignores the common human elements, as ex-State Department official Matthew Hoh observes.

 

By Matthew Hoh

Last month, I had the privilege of answering an interview request from an Iranian research agency dedicated to studying acts of terror carried out against the Iranian people. By their count 17,000 Iranians have been killed in acts of terror over the last 3 1/2 decades. Quite an astounding number, isn’t it?

I have no reason to believe this number is inflated or exaggerated, but, even if the real count is only a tenth of the pronounced figure of 17,000, it would still signify a horrendously systematic attack of political violence on a people that, as recent elections Just as many of us do not embody in our personal lives, in our beings and in our souls the worst aspects of our American government, our wars overseas and our mass incarceration at home, so too are the Iranian people not representative of their government’s acts of militarism and repression. I  know, I know. Such a trite and cliched thing to say.

But then why would so many in the U.S. not know of the thousands killed by terrorism in Iran and why would many Americans say that those dead Iranians and their devastated families deserve it? If not for such a binary and Manichean way of looking at the world, we are good and they are bad, we could understand and communicate with one another better, and then, maybe, as a united and common people we could lead this world to prosperity and health, rather than to war, climate change and poverty.

The interview can be found here and is copied below:

Full text of Habilian’s interview with Matthew Hoh, Ex-US State Department Official
Sunday, 01 May 2016 09:51 Habilian

“…in 2001, al-Qaeda only had about 200 members and the Islamic State did not exist. The United States validated the propaganda and the doctrine of the terrorists with our response to 9/11 and provided many thousands of young men with a rationale for leaving their homes and joining terror groups.”

In an exclusive interview with Habilian Association, Iranian Center for Research on Terrorism, Matthew Hoh has answered the questions about the U.S. military interventions in the Middle East following 9/11 attacks in the name of “fighting against terrorism” and its implications for the people of the region, terrorism developments in the Middle East after 2001, America’s role in the empowerment of terrorist groups in the region, U.S. imperialism around the world, relationships between the media and government in the U.S., and Machiavellian view of American leaders to terrorist groups such as MeK. Below is the full text of the Habilian Association’s interview with Hoh:

Habilian: At the beginning of the interview, please tell us when you did join the Army? Would you speak about your motives in wearing the Army Uniform?

Hoh: I joined the United States Marine Corps in 1998 for a number of reasons. I was bored with the work I was doing (I was working for a publishing company in New York  Habilian: Following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, George W. Bush delivered a speech at joint session of Congress, in which “War on Terror” was declared. In that speech, Bush raised some questions quoted from American peoples, including who attacked the US and why; and how Americans can punish them. Now, after more than 15 years of American interventions in the region that led to death of more than one million civilians, if you, as an American journalist, have an interview with Bush, what questions will you ask him about the war?

Hoh: The first question I would ask President Bush is why he is not remorseful. Does his desire for a positive view of his legacy preclude his ability to empathize with the millions who have suffered because of these wars? Secondly, I would ask him why can he not be humble and admit his policies were wrong and counter-productive. I would not be asking him to say the terror of 9/11 was not horrific and I am not asking him to compare himself with Osama bin Laden or al-Qaeda, but to simply recognize that the wars he launched and the wars that are still ongoing have made the world worse and not better. Two simple truths: the number of dead in the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia, Libya and other places number well past one million since September 12, 2001. Millions more have been wounded and are refugees from their homes. Those who suffer the horribly debilitating psychiatric and moral effects of the wars number in the tens of millions. And none of those wars are close to ending. The second truth is that, according to the American Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and based upon documents found in Afghanistan in 2001 and 2002, al Qaeda only consisted of approximately two hundred members in 2001. Now the organization has thousands of members in countries across the globe. Of course the Islamic State didn’t even exist in 2001 and only came into existence because of the United States’ invasion of Iraq in 2003. Clearly American policy in the Middle East has failed. I would ask President Bush how he ignores such truths. To be fair, I would ask President Obama the same.

Habilian: In the mentioned speech, George Bush had said that Americans are asking him what is expected of them, then listed his expectations of American people: “to live your lives, and hug your children”, “to uphold the values of America”, “to continue to support the victims of this tragedy with your contributions” and “continued participation and confidence in the American economy”. If we go back to September 20, 2001 and you had an opportunity to speak in Congress and announce your expectations from the government, what would you said?

Hoh: I am not sure if anything anyone said would be listened to. In 2001, we did have people in the United States counseling against acting on fear and anger. In Congress, however, we had only one member, Barbara Lee, from California, who voted against giving the President unlimited authority to carry out war, an authority that President Obama still utilizes nearly 15 years later. Out of 535 members of Congress only one had the wisdom, the intelligence and the courage to say that war was not just the wrong approach to terrorism, but that it would be foolhardy and prove to be counter-productive. Americans at that time were scared and angry. Politicians were scared and angry as well, but, more so, they were eager to capitalize on the public’s emotions for their own political advantage and security. So, sadly, I don’t think my stating my expectations of my government to follow the dictates of morality, justice and rule of law would have been listened to.

Habilian: On February 14, 2003, George W. Bush released “The United States’ strategy for combating terrorism” in which the US administration’s objectives in the War on Terror had been listed. The core of that strategy were weakening and isolating terror networks such as Al Qaeda. Regarding the rise of ISIS in Iraq and Syria and its violent ambitions, do you believe that the announced goals of these wars have been achieved? In your opinion, are Al Qaeda typed groups stronger or weaker now?

Hoh: Terror groups are much stronger now than in 2001. The greatest recruitment for al-Qaeda and affiliated groups was not the murders of Americans in the 9/11 attacks, but the invasion of Iraq by the US in 2003, the continued occupation of Afghanistan, torture of prisoners by American guards, and the bombing of Muslim peoples throughout the world by the West. Remember, in 2001, al-Qaeda only had about 200 members and the Islamic State did not exist. The United States validated the propaganda and the doctrine of the terrorists with our response to 9/11 and provided many thousands of young men with a rationale for leaving their homes and joining terror groups. Of course, this is all a consequence of American military and diplomatic involvement in the Middle East since the end of the Second World War. As an American I have to understand that much of what we are seeing now in the Middle East is a consequence of decades of American backed coups, American backed dictatorships, American military interventions, American backed wars, unlimited American support for Israel, American arms sales and the American formation of religiously inspired cadres to fight the Soviet Union in the 1980s, one of which famously became al-Qaeda. However, I do not believe the wisest among us in the United States, of which I must admit I was not a part of in 2001, ever thought our policies would prove to be so disastrous.

Habilian: Why despite the American intelligence agencies’ estimation that the ISIS poses no immediate threat to the United States, Obama administration decided to send the country on a military campaign against that group, knowing that such a war may take several years?

Hoh: There are a few different reasons for this. I think there are some in the US government that do believe the United States has an interest in trying to bring about stability to Iraq and Syria and that military means are the only, or the predominant, manner of doing so. I believe those assertions to be wrong, that those assumptions are not based on history or experience, but I do understand them to be sincere.

Unfortunately, there are a number of other reasons why President Obama is intervening militarily in Syria and Iraq. The most important is political. President Obama, and the Democratic Party, is afraid of being viewed as weak. It is that simple. Additionally, it is nearly impossible for an American politician to say he or she is wrong or made a mistake. American politicians would rather see more American soldiers killed, more American families devastated as a result of those losses, and more innocent civilians destroyed than to admit they are wrong. Again, it is just that simple.

There are those who believe that these wars in the Middle East can simply be broken down into terms of good people versus bad people and we, the US, are on the side of the good people. There are philosophical, religious, nationalist, racist, and other reasons for such beliefs, but simple binary thinking, much like the thinking that under lay the assumptions of the Cold War, is prevalent in Washington, DC and throughout America.

There is a lot of money involved in Iraq. American companies have a good deal of interest in the oil fields of northern Iraq and the US government is keen to see those oil fields in Kurdish control, while projected sales of weapons to the Iraqi government range from 15-30 billion dollars over the next one or two decades. Such money has enormous influence in Washington, DC and the fear of the loss of such money would motivate an American President to act militarily.

Finally, the United States has an empire around the world that it must maintain. This is different in appearance or in kind than say the British or Roman Empires of the past, but it is nonetheless an empire. The United States has over 800 military bases around the world, has client states across the globe, many of which are the worst human rights violators in power, depends upon weapons sales as one of the leading aspects of the American export economy, and spends approximately one trillion dollars a year in total in support of this complex. Any threat or challenge to this established system must be confronted. In this established system in Washington, DC, as well as in American universities and corporations, it is seemingly impossible to understand any other option for the world; in fact this world view of the United States being “responsible” for the rest of the world is taken as a praiseworthy virtue and any deviance from this view is considered naïve, ignorant or silly. Combine that with America’s cultural and religious view of itself as an “exceptional nation” or as a nation with divine purposes and you can understand why America is so quick to use its military tens of thousands of miles from its borders. It is worth noting only the Western allies of the US act similarly so far from the borders; no other nation behaves this way, with the exception of the recent limited Russian involvement in Syria.

Habilian: Daniel Benjamin, who served as the State Department’s top counterterrorism adviser during Mr. Obama’s first term, said the public discussion about the ISIS threat has been a “farce”. Why the US media are advertising this story?

Hoh: Terrorism scares and angers people, and fear and anger make for good audiences for the US media. The media in the US depends on ratings for advertising revenue (US media is privately funded) and so stories about terrorism get people’s attention causing more people to watch, listen or read, which brings in more money for the media.

There are also informal relationships between the media, the US government and politicians that lead all three to work together to support one another. The media needs the support of people in the government and politicians to get the best stories and get the best interviews, while the government and politicians need the media to present the best views of themselves and their policies. It is a mutually supportive relationship between many members of the media, the government and politicians that many in the United States see to be corrupt. That is why the American public has incredibly low opinions of the media, government and politicians in the US (recent opinion polls show that only about 10% of the public trusts these institutions).

Finally, there is the ongoing narrative of the United States being a morally correct and righteous nation that is on the side of “good” overseas. I believe the media feels it would cost them their audiences, and so their revenue, if they tried to explain world events, including terrorism and the wars, in a more complex yet accurate manner.

I must say that there are many good media sources in the US, but they tend to be small and independent of the larger corporate media that most Americans depend upon for their news. These men and women are often unfairly characterized as un-American, ideological or overly politically partisan, yet they are often the ones with the journalistic integrity the larger corporate media lacks.

Habilian: To this day MEK terrorists have been carrying out attacks inside of Iran killing political opponents, attacking civilian targets, as well as carrying out the US-Israeli program of targeting and assassinating Iranian scientists. In your opinion, how America’s government came to the conclusion that MeK no longer should be in the Terrorist List?

Hoh: The MeK has been very successful in the United States in paying American politicians and former government officials to represent the MeK. Along with the demonization with which the American government has colored Iran with since 1979, these political efforts by the MeK have succeeded in making many American leaders believe the MeK can be useful to US interests in the Middle East. Whether or not they know or care that the MeK has made many, many innocent Iranian people suffer is not something American leaders consider. I am quick to denounce the violent actions of my government, just as many Iranians are quick to denounce the violent actions of the Iranian government. Groups like the MeK and actions like the assassination of Iranian scientists serve only to prolong hostilities between the United States and Iran, hostilities that have gone on for far too long and which only serve the elites who hold power in both countries and which cause both the American and Iranian people to suffer.

Matthew Hoh is a Senior Fellow at the Center for International Policy. A former State Department official, Hoh resigned in protest from his post in Afghanistan over U.S. strategic policy and goals in Afghanistan in September 2009. Prior to his assignment in Afghanistan, Hoh served in Iraq. When not deployed, Hoh worked on Afghanistan and Iraq policy and operations issues at the Pentagon and State Department from 2002-8.

Russia Cites Radicalization In Central Asian Economic Migrants

[ Psychiatric Needs of Syrian Refugees Documented ]

Radicalism thrives among Central Asia migrant workers in Russia

times of central asia

Written by Marta Ter

BISHKEK (TCA) — As labor migration to Russia remains an important source of income for many families in Central Asian states, we are republishing the following article by Marta Ter, originally published by The Jamestown Foundation’s Eurasia Daily Monitor:

In recent months, the Federal Security Service (FSB) allegedly thwarted several terrorist attacks on Russian soil by migrants from Central Asia. In April, Russian security services claimed that four citizens of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan were planning terrorist acts in Moscow (Kommersant, May 6), while in February, seven Central Asian citizens based in Ekaterinburg and supposedly linked to the Islamic State (IS) were charged with terrorism (Interfax, February 8). That same month, another group of migrants, this one in the Novgorod region, was accused of belonging to Hizb ut-Tahrir, an Islamist group banned in Russia, but which operates freely in several Western countries (TASS, February 3).

Although it is difficult to know the veracity of these claims, what is not in question is the presence of Central Asian citizens waging jihad in Syria and Iraq. Out of an estimated 30,000 foreign fighters who have travelled there to join the IS and other violent extremist groups, it is believed that about 2,000 come from Central Asian republics (Soufangroup.com, December 2015). Various sources claim that a significant number of Central Asian citizens ended up in Syria after being radicalized and recruited in Russia. According to Tajik expert for religious issues Faridun Khodizoda (Radio Ozodi, July 30, 2015), Bahtiyar Babadzhanov, from the Institute of Oriental Studies in Tashkent (Novye Litsa, December 14, 2015), and Edward Lemon, from the Exeter Central Asian Studies Network (Blogs.exeter.ac.uk; September 15, 2014), most of the young Central Asians who go to Syria belonged to a migrant community in Russia. Several interviews with fighters who returned from Syria and with relatives of fighters support this same thesis (Meduza, April 27, 2015; Gezitter, April 15, 2016; Novaya Gazeta, January 18, 2016).

According to the Russian Federal Migration Service, almost four million natives of Central Asia live in Russia (Migrantfergana.ru, April 7, 2016). The average migrant profile is a young male in his twenties. Once there, they work seasonally on construction sites, in marketplaces and as street cleaners, often illegally. Local employees routinely exploit them. According to a 2014 Council of the Baltic Sea States Secretariat study on human trafficking and labor exploitation, 20 percent of all migrant workers in Russia are in a situation of forced labor. Police officers usually connive with employers engaged in exploitative labor practices, deporting immigrants who complain or simply forcing them back to their workplace (Cbss.org, April 2014).
The Humanitarian and Legal Center in Bukhara, Uzbekistan, recorded several cases in which migrants face pressures when trying to legalize their residency status in Russia. They fall victim to extortion, and are offered “help” by radicals-criminals, who promise to assist them as long as they attend sermons by a particular religious leader, mainly Salafists (Gumilev-center.ru, July 8, 2014).

Central Asians regularly face discrimination and xenophobia in Russia, and, statistically, they are the largest group of victims of crimes committed by members of far-right groups. In 2014, at least 14 migrants from Central Asia were killed and 29 were injured in ethnically-motivated attacks; last year, 5 were killed and 16 were injured (Sova-center.ru, reports 2015 and 2016).
Central Asian natives tend to experience an identity crisis while working in Russia: their social order and family life is disrupted, and in a new hostile environment religion may become a key element, even if in their own countries it was not an essential part of their life. They look for protection among other Muslims because it provides them with a sense of belonging to a community that supports them. But this can be a double-edged sword: detached from the control and moderation of family, the local mosque and their community, they are more vulnerable to recruitment by extremist groups. Some migrants have described how radicals proselytize in and around mosques in Moscow (Novaya Gazeta, January 18, 2016), and also how individuals from the North Caucasus visit the building sites where they work and promise them jobs in Turkey or Syria, telling them that fighting is not compulsory in the Islamic State (Meduza, April 27, 2015).

The threat also comes from the Internet. The Islamic State is the most aggressive in this field: Russian is the third-most-used language in their propaganda, only after Arabic and English. The extremist group broadcasts in Russian its daily Al-Bayan Radio news online, publishes magazines Furat Press and Istok, and is active in spreading its messages in social media.
IS propagandists effectively instrumentalize the perceptions of injustice and frustration of Central Asian migrants. They focus on the friendship among jihadist fighters, on the social justice that prevails in the Islamic State, and on the opportunities it offers. Utilizing utopian language, they clearly appeal to those in need of a sense of inclusion, justice and belonging to a community (see Terrorism Monitor, June 12, 2015).

The root causes of violent extremism are complex and multifaceted, but there are certain “push factors” that are universal: perceptions of injustice, human rights violations, social-political exclusion, widespread corruption or sustained mistreatment of certain groups. All these inequalities come together for Central Asian migrants.

To reverse this situation, a coordinated effort will be required by international organizations, the Russian government and civil society in order convert the hostile environment in which migrants live into an inclusive one, with well-enforced anti-discrimination policies. And last but not least, for some of these Central Asian countries, remittances sent home from workers in Russia account for as much as half of their national GDP, as in Tajikistan for example, or for one third of their GDP, as in Kyrgyzstan (see EDM, February 23, 2015). Therefore, economic development and job creation efforts in the region continue to be vitally important so that local populations no longer have to leave their countries en mass, as happens now.

Vietnam Tries Its Hand At Island Building In S. China Sea

viet cay1 BEFORE

viet cay2 AFTER

China isn’t the only one building islands in the South China Sea

business insider

China is not the only nation building islands in the South China Sea — although the scope of its construction is unparalleled.

Along with Beijing, Vietnam has also started projects mostly within the past two years of constructing islands. Altogether, the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative has documented 10 sites of Vietnamese construction throughout the region. Together, Vietnam has built slightly over 120 acres of land in the area.

By comparison, China has created over 3,000 acres of land in the Spratly Islands, far overshadowing Vietnam’s efforts.

Pakistan to push UN to declare Indian Ocean nuclear-free zone

ArihantIndia had last month tested nuclear-capable K-4 Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missiles (SLBMs) from its nuclear-powered submarine INS Arihant as part of its efforts to develop second-strike capability. Also on Sunday, India tested its Advanced Air Defence Missile Ashwin for its upcoming multi-layered Ballistic Missile Defence system.

Pakistan to push UN to declare Indian Ocean nuclear-free zone

 

the indian express

 

“We are planning to highlight the dangerous implications of India’s plans to nuclearise the Indian Ocean at all relevant international fora. Pakistan is fully prepared to defend its people and its borders” Aziz said.

Adviser to the Pakistan Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz has said that India’s nuclear-armed missiles deployed on nuclear-powered submarines pose a threat to the maritime security of the Indian Ocean Region’s (IOR) 32 littoral states and that Islamabad would call on the United Nations regarding this matter.

According to Dawn, Aziz, while making a policy statement on the deployment of nuclear-armed missiles on submarines in the Indian Ocean, said that Pakistan was considering a proposal for tabling a resolution at the UN General Assembly session later this year, which would call for making the Indian Ocean a nuclear-free zone.

He asserted that Pakistan might ask the 32 littoral states to co-sponsor the move which include, the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, South Africa, Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore and Thailand.

He added that the the matter would be raised with all major world powers, both at bilateral and multilateral fora. “We are planning to highlight the dangerous implications of India’s plans to nuclearise the Indian Ocean at all relevant international fora. Pakistan is fully prepared to defend its people and its borders” Aziz said.

“Despite limitation of resources, Pakistan has developed a robust nuclear deterrence, which is constantly updated. At the same time, Pakistan’s successful efforts to ensure the safety and security of its nuclear and missile assets have been widely acknowledged,” he said.

He assured the Senate that Pakistani armed forces and defence scientists were fully vigilant and taking remedial measures by “evaluating the strategic threats” and developing “strategic responses”.

 

Obama Supports Nuclear-Free Greater Middle East, But Only After Pacification

Now Is the Time To Demand a Nuclear-Free Middle East.

Israel accuses Arab neighbors of stalling on nuke-free Mideast

If Obama Pushes Putin Into WWIII, Then We Will Lose

Russia Pushes International Conference On Mideast Cleansed of All WMD

Turki Addresses US/Brit Officers–A Saudi national security doctrine for the next decade

Necessary to stem channels of supporting and financing terrorists in Syria

Lavrov: Necessity to stem channels of supporting and financing terrorists in Syria

SYRIAN RADIO AND TV

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Monday that his talks with the US Secretary of State John Kerry touched upon means to stop importing weapons to terrorists in Syria particularly through Turkish borders.

Lavrov added, in a press conference following his talks with Kerry, we discussed the necessity of stopping channels of supporting and financing terrorists particularly across the Syrian-Turkish border, and we do know that each part of agreements needs to use pressure upon all Syrian opposition groups by members of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG), pointing out that the US used influence over those groups and we will see what would happen.

“We focused on sending an important signal to a specific part of the Syrian opposition which presents final warnings and pre-conditions,” Lavrov said, adding that talks with al-Riyadh opposition and other oppositions on the crisis in Syria would be continued.

The Russian Foreign Minister pointed out that “our American partners understand the importance of implementing all agreements including to have all representatives of the Syrian opposition in the intra-Syrian dialogue, and we will see how talks would go Tuesday during ISSG meeting,”

He added that the final document to be issued by Russia and the US, as co-chairs of ISSG, was also discussed, and “we together would present those ideas to our partners in ISSG to be adopted in the meeting”.

On Monday, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said that his country is working on setting ideas for the final document of the ISSG meeting due to be held in Vienna Tuesday.

Lavrov affirmed that Russia and the US have an understanding over what should be done concerning the political solution for the crisis in Syria, pointing out that some opposition sides have constructive ideas over the settlement.

For his part, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said, in a statement from Vienna, that the next round of the Intra-Syrian dialogue for solving the crisis in Syria is up to the UN Special Envoy to Syria Staffan De Mistura’s decision.

Gatilov indicated that representatives of the Syrian opposition presented, during their meeting with Lavrov, practical steps to set successful talks, pointing out that De Mistura doesn’t object, in principle, the participation of Syrian Kurds in the intra-Syrian dialogue.

Militants Fire Rockets At Prominent Taliban Critic, Abdul Rab Rasool Sayyaf

[Sayyaf urge militants to end slavery, insisting Taliban defeated in Operation Omari ; Several rockets fired on Sayyaf’s residence, no casualties reported ]

Sayyaf’s house comes under rocket attack in Kabul

Khaama

rasul_sayyaf

 

 

 

 

The residence of a prominent former Jihadi leader Abdul Rab Rasool Sayyaf once again came under rocket in Kabul this morning.

Sources close to Sayyaf said at least two rockets were fired in the early hours of Friday morning which landed in the vicinity close to his house.

There are no reports regarding the casualties and no group has so far claimed responsibility behind the attack.

This comes as several rockets were fired on the residence of Sayyaf nearly a week ago but the attack did not result into any casualties.

 

sayyaf-08-march-16

Former Jihadi leader Abdul Rab Rasool Sayyaf on Tuesday once again blasted in strong words Taliban’s so-called Jihad in Afghanistan, calling the war in opposition to Islam and against the will of people of Afghanistan.

Addressing a ceremony in Kabul commemorating the second death anniversary of former Vice President Marshal Mohammad Qasim Fahim, Sayyaf stated that Taliban’s war was neither Jihad nor in the interest of the country.

“They [Taliban] think they fight for the country but in fact they ruin the country,” said Sayyaf, who is popular for being a strong anti-Taliban figure. “It is not for Islam and it is not Jihad.”

In addition, he praised the sacrifices of security forces fighting the militant groups.

Security forces are “obliged to fight Taliban” to defend the country, he continued.

Abdullah Abdullah, CEO of National Unity Government, was also present at the event where he maintained that government’s efforts to make peace with Taliban didn’t mean to surrender to the group.

“Those who reject the call for peace are responsible for their lives themselves,” Abdullah warned.

Officials from High Peace Council (HPC) were also present at the ceremony where they insisted the past achievements would not be jeopardized in peace negotiations with Taliban.

Deputy head of HPC Abdul Karim Khalili, who was the second Vice President in Hamid Karzai’s government, declared that no one would be allowed to compromise on the gains of past 15 years in the peace talks with Taliban.

Discussions on peace talks keep circulating these days as the Afghan government and the Taliban were expected to hold a face-to-face talks this week in neighboring Pakistan.

Taliban however in a statement rejected to come forward for direct talks unless they said their demands are met.

ENTER THE HEKMATYAR—Afghanistan Signs “Peace Agreement” with Notorious Warlord

Image 392 Wahab Raofi Interpreter for NATO/International Security Assistance Forces, Kabul Law School grad with Afghanistan Ministry of Justice, U.S. residence.

Like a buzzing mosquito that just won’t go away, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar is back in the news. He sent a video from his unknown hideout in Pakistan, asking for reconciliation with Afghanistan’s government and presenting himself as a peacemaker.

This is the same Gulbuddin Hekmatyar who was branded a global terrorist by the United States, founded the militant Hezb-i-Islami group and is blamed for killing thousands of his fellow Afghan citizens with indiscriminate artillery shelling during the 1990’s civil war.

Hekmatyar also served briefly as Prime Minister of Afghanistan, a position he “earned” by virtue of a coup d’etat in Kabul. At age 68, after living in exile in Iran and Pakistan for decades, he is now trying to carve out a new position of power for himself with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

President Ghani has extended an olive branch of peace to various factions, including the Taliban, and Hekmatyar looks to exploit those soft sentiments for a ticket back into Afghanistan. He says he wants a “real and fair peace.”

Instead, I believe Hekmatyar covets a supreme-leader role for himself, like Kim Jong-Un in North Korea or Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Hosseini Khamenei in Iran.

I have been familiar with Gulbuddin Hekmatyar since our college days together, when we both attended Kabul University in the early 1970’s. He was a freshman in the engineering department while I was in law school. I remember him as a very good orator. He was already assembling supporters, mostly rural young Pashtuns from the Ghilzai tribes.

One day he climbed a tree and delivered a long speech, railing against the Afghan government for not taking action against Maoist groups, such as the student Progressive Youth Organization (PYO). Hekmatyar’s supporters attacked the PYO students with rocks, and multiple sources say that Hekmatyar personally assassinated poet Saydal Sokhandan, a prominent PYO activist. It may have been his first murder, but it certainly wasn’t his last. To escape arrest, Hekmatyar fled to Pakistan.

Hekmatyar became a master at switching sides in Afghanistan’s never-ending wars. He fought Soviet Union forces during the 1980s, then engaged in infanticide during a civil war with the mujahideen. Although he took CIA funding to help fight the Soviets, his military wing repeatedly attacked Afghan and U.S. forces – including a 2013 car bombing that killed 16 persons, including six American advisers in Kabul.

In his book The Main Enemy, former CIA officer Milt Bearden wrote that “Hekmatyar thought nothing of ordering an execution for a slight breach of party discipline.”

He is well-known for being brutal, ruthless, ungrateful and a notorious warlord who would do anything to serve his own purposes. His latest move toward “peace” was triggered by a confluence of events.

Since taking office in 2014, President Ghani has been seeking a reconciliation with insurgents. The Taliban refused and intensified their attacks on Afghan security forces.

Equally desperate for tranquility is Afghanistan’s Peace High Council, established in 2010 by former president Hamid Karzai. It has failed to produce anything tangible. Under public pressure because of its bloated budget and staff and a marked lack of results, the Peace High Council is pushing to show some kind of progress, no matter what the price.

Hekmatyar is trying to seize this opportunity to make his next move. His Hezb-i-Islami party fragmented over the years, and most of his military wing defected and joined the Karzai government. He also lost support among Pashtuns who were once the backbone of his party.

Anyone who dreams of ruling Afghanistan must carry the support of the Pashtun-dominated south, from which Afghan kings and the Taliban hailed. The traditional south would rather be ruled by the Taliban, which doesn’t pose a threat to its lifestyle, than by someone who wants to impose a party platform.

Hekmatyar’s image in the south was further damaged when he reportedly took sides with Al Qaeda against the Taliban.

If anything is certain about Hekmatyar, it is that he has become predictable. He is an opportunist and will not miss a chance to quench his never-ending thirst for power. I believe that his peace overture with the embattled Ghani government is a gambit. He still has many of his ex-commanders and loyalists in high positions within the Afghan government and parliament.

If Hekmatyar were welcomed back into a position of influence in Afghanistan, I see three possible scenarios:

(1) Hekmatyar stirs trouble by demanding more power for his close associates. This further polarizes and widens the Afghan rivalries, especially between two large ethnic groups: the Pashtun, who are behind President Ghani, and the Tajik, who support Abdullah Abdulla, CEO of the unity government. In the resulting chaos, Hekmatyar tries to emerge as supreme leader.

(2) Hekmatyar finds himself unable to impose his will on a nation that has changed so much since 2001, in terms of expanded human rights, freedom of press and social liberties. His ambitions are squashed, and he flees back to Pakistan.

(3) Hekmatyar keeps his promise to live as a responsible citizen. This encourages other insurgents to lay down arms down and join the peace process.

We can hope against hope that the third option is the one that materializes – or we can avoid the terrible risk simply by ignoring the peace offering that is almost certainly a ruse by the notorious Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.

Former NATO Dep. Commander Predicts War with Russia Within One Year

Former British general predicts Russia will seize territory in eastern Ukraine and invade Baltic states, sparking war

Joint military exercise of forces from Georgia, Britain and the US.
Joint military exercise of forces from Georgia, Britain and the US. Photograph: Zurab Kurtsikidze/EPA

In a book published on Wednesday, 2017 War With Russia, Shirreff argues that the events in Crimea have destroyed the post-cold-war settlement and set the stage for conflict, beginning next year.

In a chilling scenario, he predicts that Russia, in order to escape what it believes to be encirclement by Nato, will seize territory in eastern Ukraine, open up a land corridor to Crimea and invade the Baltic states.

Shirreff, who was deputy supreme allied commander Europe from 2011 to 2014 and before that served in Northern Ireland, Iraq and the Balkans, is risking his reputation by making such a bold prediction. But he claims his narrative is closely modelled on his Nato experience of war-gaming future conflicts.

His scenario is specific, naming Latvia as the first of the Baltic countries to be invaded, in May next year. Such specifics open him to potential ridicule.

At the book launch at London’s Royal United Services Institute, he heavily caveated the scenario by saying it was still avoidable provided Nato took the necessary steps to pre-position forces in large enough numbers in the Baltic states. Nato is planning to make a start on just such a move at a Nato summit in Warsaw in July.

Faced with scepticism from journalists at the book launch – the Baltic states, unlike Ukraine, are members of Nato, and Russian action against any of them would in theory trigger a response – Shirreff said history was full of irrational decisions by leaders.

He said Putin could invade the Baltic states and then threaten nuclear action if Nato threatened to intervene.

Shirreff’s warning about the danger posed by Russia is echoed in the foreword by US admiral James Stavridis, former supreme allied commander Europe, who writes: “Under President Putin, Russia has charted a dangerous course that, if it is allowed to continue, may lead inexorably to a clash with Nato. And that will mean a war that could so easily go nuclear.”

Shirreff insists that retention of a nuclear deterrent is essential. “Be under no illusion whatsoever – Russian use of nuclear weapons is hardwired into Moscow’s military strategy,” he writes.

He describes Russia as now the west’s most dangerous adversary and says Putin’s course can only be stopped if the west wakes up to the real possibility of war and takes urgent action.

He also rounds on the UK for what he says is the emasculation of its conventional military capability on the assumption that the international scene will remain benign. He says Nato increasingly lacks the knowledge, capability and military hardware to match what he describes as Russia’s ever-improving conventional capability.

He is scathing about David Cameron and Philip Hammond, who was defence secretary before becoming foreign secretary, over cuts in the military. Speaking about Cameron, he writes that he has “made himself increasingly irrelevant on the international stage”.

Shirreff discloses a clash with Hammond, then defence secretary, in 2014 after the general wrote a piece in the Sunday Times saying that cutbacks were a big gamble. “The defence secretary was so infuriated at being questioned in public that I was summoned by General Sir Peter Wall, the chief of the general staff and head of the army, and told that the defence secretary wanted ‘formal action’ against me.

“However, formal action would have involved a court martial and, fortunately for the latter’s political reputation – it also seems he had not appreciated that I reported to Nato and not to him – wiser counsel had prevailed.”

Asked at the book launch about the incident, he said “I think it is the duty of senior soldiers engaged with politicians not to think like politicians, not to make life easy for politicians, but to lay out the military consequences of political decisions. And I sense that is something that has got blurred in recent years.”

The latter point appeared to be a reference to the failure of senior British military figures to stand up to Tony Blair over the invasion of Iraq. The Chilcot inquiry into Iraq is expected to criticise senior British commanders over this failure.

Asked about the consequences for British security of leaving the European Union, Shirreff said it would make the EU weaker and that a weaker EU would make Britain weaker.

Trump may be onto something with his anti-NATO stance

Trump may be onto something with his anti-NATO stance

the californian

 

One of the more unusual topics of this very unusual election year has been the hitherto uncontroversial issue of the U.S. commitment to NATO. Last month, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump slammed NATO for being “obsolete.” This week, as he swept closer to the GOP nomination, he softened that to “outdated” but repeated his call for changes – including making allies pay more. Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders similarly has argued that the United States should scale back its NATO commitments.

These ideas have drawn fierce criticism from the defense and foreign policy establishments. Victor Davis Hanson, a historian at the Hoover Institute, acknowledged the salience of Trump’s argument but then backflipped to argue for the organization’s continued relevance anyway: “A powerful Russia will always have to be watched. A dynamic and headstrong Germany will always have to be integrated into some sort of military alliance. And the United States will always have a natural self-interest in pre-emptively keeping kindred Europeans from killing each other.”

Since 1949

Yet there are good reasons to take Trump’s and Sanders’ arguments seriously. On one level, NATO really is obsolete. It was established in 1949 to ensure the collective defense of Western Europe against the threat of a Soviet invasion. At the time, this did not seem like a particularly remote possibility.

NATO succeeded in keeping Western Europe safe for more than 40 years, until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Then a curious thing happened: NATO both lost its rationale for existing and went through a dramatic expansion of member states.

As the Soviet sphere collapsed and Russia struggled with persistent economic malaise, the U.S. pushed through the admittance of Eastern European countries into NATO. By 2009, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary were members. So were the three Baltic republics of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – all of which, unlike other NATO members, have common borders with Russia.

Russian leaders have argued that in expanding NATO, U.S. leaders broke their promise to not exploit the Soviet collapse to extend NATO into Russia’s sphere of interest. Many foreign policy writers and journalists – consistent with the official Russian line – say Western efforts to bring Ukraine into NATO led to the prolonged political crisis and partial Russian occupation of that beleaguered country.

War on terrorism

Now, NATO no longer has a clearly defined contemporary purpose. If anything, it has been the source of increasing friction.

Most important, it is incapable of dealing with the threats of the 21st century, especially terrorism. Collective defensive treaties are meant to ensure the safety of states against other states. They don’t provide an effective framework for confronting non-state threats such as al-Qaeda and the Islamic State, which use guerrilla tactics rather than amassing armies on a nation’s borders.

Let’s call out NATO for what it is: a 20th century organization adrift in a 21st century world. Instead of paying the majority share of its exorbitant costs, the U.S. should shift more of the burden to its NATO partners and transition to a more flexible defensive system. NATO should be phased out and replaced by bi- or multilateral arrangements between America and different countries.

Under NATO, defense defines the nature of U.S. relations with the other 27 member countries. A phaseout would allow a greater role for diplomatic relations where appropriate. Some countries might need more military assurance than others. Estonia and Latvia, for instance, could have greater defensive needs against Russian incursion than France.

By reducing the financial burdens of NATO, America also would be freer to develop and strengthen partnerships in the Middle East, where Russian involvement in Syria marks a new challenge, and in the Pacific, where North Korea and China remain concerns. Finally, phasing out NATO would signal to Russia that the U.S. and Western Europe were no longer attempting to encroach on its interests.

Renegotiating our alliance system will better reflect U.S. economic reality and allow us to better handle an increasingly complex world. We need to be able to grapple with tomorrow’s problems unburdened by the legacies of yesteryear.

Dean Michael Harris - College of Public Service Michael Harris is dean of the College of Public Service at Tennessee State University. Kenneth Garner is a visiting assistant professor at Kalamazoo College.

Malabar-16 Is India Sucking-Up To Obama Without Pissing-Off China Too Much

[The Indian press described last year’s Malabar naval exercise as “Cocking a snook at China.”

cock a snook: “derisive gesture,” Thumb one’s nose

That gesture amply describes this year’s Malabar provocations as well.  India is a wimpy Nation, dominated by the will of the United States, just as assuredly as it was subservient to the British Raj for nearly a century.  Despite its recent announcement that it would not participate with US anti-China operations in the S. China Sea, India and the US have wiggled-out a safe position for the Indian Navy to front for the US Navy against China’s more powerful naval force, without sacrificing Indian deniability. 

If the Malabar exercise is really confined to the northern Philippine Sea (east of Philippines), then Delhi’s navy will avoid the S. China Sea war zone, but only if the reported Cam Rahn Bay (Vietnam) and Subic Bay (Philippines) visits are merely “ports of call” and NOT related to the war games.  Somehow, Obama’s Monday visit to Hanoi for some up close and personal arm-twisting suggests otherwise.  Beijing’s answer to all of this American aggression can be seen in this most-recent air incident between USAF and PAF over the Spratly Island zone.]

South China Sea Dispute: US, Japan, India To Hold War Games Near Disputed South China Sea

international bus. times

 

The United States, India and Japan are to hold naval drills off the northern coast of the Philippines near the disputed South China Sea this year to reinforce a “freedom of navigation” doctrine, amid China’s expansion in the sea region that has alarmed neighbors, officials said.

The drills, the dates of which have not been announced, are part of annual exercises between the U.S. and Indian navies that last year expanded to include Japan, another country that has also raised concern over China’s muscle flexing in the region.

The U.S. Pacific Command chief, Adm. Harry B. Harris, said the exercises were scheduled in the northern Philippine Sea, stressing that unimpeded sea travel was a right that must be enjoyed by all nations.  (READ HERE)

Navy deploys warships to South China Sea

hindustan

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

Guided missile stealth frigates INS Satpura and Sahyadri, fleet support ship INS Shakti and guided missile corvette INS Kirch will be part of the deployment. (File Photo)

Four Indian warships left for an operational deployment to the South China Sea and North West Pacific on Wednesday. During the two-and-a-half month deployment, the warships will make port calls at Cam Rahn Bay (Vietnam), Subic Bay (Philippines), Sasebo (Japan), Busan (South Korea), Vladivostok (Russia) and Port Klang (Malaysia).

Russia To Revamp Powerful Sevastapol Radar To Counter Aegis In Romania

[US Aegis Ashore Missile Defense Facility Goes Online In Romania Tomorrow]

Crimea to defend Russia from nuclear strike again

pravda

Crimea to defend Russia from nuclear strike again. Crimea

Mil.ru photo

The Russian Ministry of Defence will restore the Dnepr Missile Launch Detection System radar, which is situated near the city of Sevastopol.

According to a source in military industrial complex, the upgraded facility will be able to detect launches of ballistic, cruise as well as hypersonic missiles from the Black and Mediterranean Seas, and will secure Russian territories in the south and south-east.

Mikhail Khodarenok, an air defence expert explained that “after the USSR had collapsed, Ukraine came into the radar in Sevastopol, then it was rented by Russia some time, but the agreement was broken because of the Kiev’s stance. The radar has not been used for over 10 years, and it got out of order”.

He believes that loss of the facility was compensated in 2013 with the Voronezh-DM Missile Launch Detection System radar, which was put into operation near the city of Armavir. It totally surpassed the control zones of the two radars left in Ukraine, that is near Sevastopol and Mukachevo, as well as of that in the Azerbaijani city of Gabala.

The first Voronezh-class radar was deployed in the village of Lekhtusi near St Petersburg in 2008. As a result, the military gained opportunity to see everything that is going on in air and space from the coast of Morocco to Spitzbergen, and what about range, it reaches the eastern coast of the US.

The radar near Armavir, which was put into operation in 2009, monitors everything happening from the North of Africa to India. While a radar in the Kaliningrad region covers the Western sector.

A facility in the Irkutsk region “breaks through” area from China to the US Western coast. A range of alike radars are to be deployed in the nearest future.

According to the Prof. Vadim Kozyulin at the Academy of Military Sciences, deployment of the Sevastopolian radar “will secure all-round defence from missile attacks… the American missile Tomahawk flies to Moscow from the Mediterranean Sea for about two hours. Task of the new radar will be to detect its launch and direct air defence systems at it.”

Pravda.Ru

Indian Map Trick Becomes India’s Best Hope To Stop China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)

India reject Pakistan objections to map regulation bill

This map downloaded from the Survey of India website shows the Official Boundary of India.

Sino-Pak corridor through PoK in focus during Gen Sharif’s China visit

hindustan

Sutirtho Patranobis, Hindustan Times, Beijing

Pakistan Army chief Gen Raheel Sharif with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang. (State Council of China)

Pakistan Army chief Gen Raheel Sharif’s two-day visit to Beijing focussed on the $46-billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which India has objected to because it passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

The CPEC is a key component of President Xi Jinping’s  “Belt and Road Initiative” connecting China’s Xinjiang region to Pakistan’s Gwadar port.

Sharif ‘s visit, which concluded on Tuesday, and his meetings with the top leadership in Beijing, including Premier Li Keqiang, came within days of the US releasing a report that claimed China could open a naval logistics hub in Pakistan to support its presence in the Indian Ocean.

Not too many details were shared about the meetings that the powerful Pakistan Army chief had with Li and Fan Changlong, vice-chairperson of China’s Central Military Commission that is headed by President Xi Jinping. But there was little doubt that the CPEC was in focus.

Sharif assured Li that the Pakistan Army will provide security to all bilateral projects.

“The Pakistani army appreciates Pakistan’s profound friendship with China,” the official Xinhua news agency quoted Sharif as saying. He said the “Pakistani side expects achievements from the Pakistan-China Economic Corridor and is ready to provide security for cooperation”.

Li said the CPEC is “not only a flagship project between the two sides but also conducive to development and prosperity of the whole region”. China, Li said, appreciates the strong support from Pakistan’s government and military for the project.

Defence minister Manohar Parrikar had raised India’s concerns about the CPEC passing through PoK during his meetings with Chinese officials in Beijing last month.

“We made our stand very clear…that India has strong reservations on their (China’s) activities in PoK. They noted our concerns. They explained that (the involvement) was on the economic aspect, with nothing against India from the defence or military side,” he had said.

Parrikar was confident China would address India’s concerns. “Our concerns were noted by them. I expect them to act on the concerns,” he had said.

The developments during Sharif’s visit indicated China and Pakistan are on track with the CPEC. Besides, military-to-military ties have “reinforced” China-Pakistan relations, especially economic cooperation,

Li called on both sides to strengthen high-level contacts and deepen exchanges in various fields. Economic cooperation and security collaboration between the two should be pushed forward “like two wheels”, he said.

Li hoped China and Pakistan will increase communication and coordination on global and regional issues to safeguard peace and promote common development and prosperity.

The America That Media Made

The America I Woke Up to This Morning

I read online today a nameless Congressman has penned a book, Confessions of Congressman X (unrated at Amazon.com), that claims his main job is to get re-elected, voters are ignorant (what’s new?), it’s easy to manipulate a nation of naive, self-absorbed sheep who crave instant gratification, that he seldom reads bills up for vote and the country spends money it doesn’t have to mortgage its future. 

But can Americans do anything about this?  It just adds to the pent up frustration.  The book pretends to reveal all but it’s much worse than just government graft and corruption, it is murder in broad daylight conducted by the state simply overlooked.  If you think the US Constitution protects your life and liberty and that only corrupt fascist governments overseas rub out their domestic enemies, consider the long list of suspicious deaths following the JFK assassination.

I want to know who is pushing the transgender agenda in America? The news media was re-introducing Bruce Jenner to America months before he announced he would undergo a sex-change.  Now our King (aka elected President) issues a royal command that US schools must permit transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms.  

And, and, Caitlyn Jenner (aka Olympic gold medalist Bruce Jenner) is now reported to be considering a transition back to being a male because of her “devout Christian beliefs.” (You don’t mean Biblical faith where the Book of Genesis says “Male and female created He (God) them,” not male and shemale?).

The Huff Post article says Caitlyn is proud she has raised awareness of how transgender people have been discriminated against but still is attracted to females.  (She retains her male genitalia,)  She now believes a same-sex relationship would be sinful, says the Huff Post report.  Absurd.  Why is the world expected to follow this twisted drama?

The left-leaning Huffington Post today posted a report that says Democratic “hopeful” Hillary Clinton favors changes in the composition of bankers who sit in key positions in regional Federal Reserve banks.  Hillary wants the Federal Reserve to be more representative of the various ethnic and racial groups in America.  “Holy shit, that’s great news” the Huffington Post quotes a noted economist to say. 

Really?  Really? That same Federal Reserve Bank that gave away most of the country’s money to financial elites that destroyed the middle class and created a nation run by oligarchs?  The Huff Post must be referring to the Hillary Clinton who, according to a Gallup survey, is the most admired woman in the world, not the Hillary Clinton in the news today for having siphoned off $100 million from Mideast leaders via the Clinton Foundation.

It’s just another day in America, brought to you by an electronic news press that must stoop to the bizarre to gain web traffic.  

Pakistan’s inept handling of mega ‘China-Pakistan Economic Corridor’ project

Pakistan’s inept handling of mega ‘China-Pakistan Economic Corridor’ project

merinews
Chinese President Xi Jinping during his ever first visit (April 20-21, 2015) to Pakistan presented a ‘freebie’ worth US $46 billion worth Chinese investment in Pakistan for over 50 energy and infrastructural projects under China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a trans-regional project. For China, CPEC is a major tool for achieving its long awaited regional aspirations to have direct access to the hot waters of the Gulf and direct link with the South Asia and North Asia, through Gwadar (Baluchistan)-Kashgar by 2030.
China, however, at that juncture might not have envisaged the extent to which CPEC project would go through so many rough patches due to petty minded Pakistani politicians, Pakistan army’s unwanted interest, inefficient bureaucracy and inter provincial wrangling to grab major share of Chinese freebie. China believed that CPEC would benefit over three billion people with the enhanced connectivity by the year 2030, whereas in Pakistan the ruling Muslim League (N) was busy in ensuring that its Punjab province should get maximum benefit out of China’s unprecedented investment,which was roughly 20 per cent of Pakistan’s annual GDP.

The long-awaited visit of President Xi to Pakistan, which was earlier cancelled in September 2014 amid political chaos in Islamabad, was marred at the very outset due to Nawaz Sharif’s week control over his Cabinet colleagues. During the very first day of President Xi’s visit itself when China announced CPEC projects, Pakistan witnessed an unprecedented adverse political development exposing differences in Nawaz Shahrif’s cabinet over issue of providing security cover to Chinese engineers and technicians working in Pakistan under the CPEC projects.Interior Minister, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan boycotted President Xi’s visit and asserted his claim over providing security to the Chinese in Pakistan was an internal issue and Pakistan army should not be assigned this duty. However, as expected Pakistan Army outrightly rejected Chaudhry Nisar Ali’s claim and Pakistan President Mamnoon Hussain during one to one meeting (April 20, 2015) with President Xi informed the latter about formation of over 10,000 strong Special Security Division (SSD) under the Pakistan army with the sole objective of protecting Chinese working on Chinese projects in Pakistan.

Significantly, the SSD also included 5,000 army personnel from Pakistan army’s elite commando force called Special Services Group (SSG), specially trained for counter terrorism and security.

Before the CPEC project could see the light of the day, inter provincial bickering started to get maximum benefit out of CPEC. Smaller states like Baluchistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa vehemently opposed Punjab (Pakistan) province maneuvers to extract maximum benefits at the cost of other smaller provinces, particularly in electricity and road projects and accused Nawaz Sharif government of deceitfulness in CPEC planning.

Baluchistan was also not happy over its share of CPEC projects and criticized the federal government for exploiting Baluchistan in the name of development. Even civil society of the Pakistan was critical of the federal government and termed the CPEC as ‘China-Punjab Economic Corridor” and lamented Nawaz Sharif government for favoring Punjab province by altering original CPEC road route and allocating projects to the Punjab province worth US$ 11 billion at the cost of other three provinces. Some opposition parties also criticized Nawaz Sharif government for setting up majority of electricity and energy projects in Punjab province to gain political mileage before 2018 general elections in the country.

A section of Pakistan’s parliamentarians was also not happy the way Nawaz Sharif government had allocated CPEC projects, directly and indirectly favoring Punjab province. Pakistan’s Upper House’s Senate Special Committee on CPEC expressed dissatisfaction (May 7, 2016, Islamabad) over the government’s secrecy on the progress made on the projects under CPEC and even criticized China for taking advantage under the garb of CPEC.

Senator Nauman Wazir Khattak of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party alleged that Pakistan was being charged 8 per cent interest rate whereas international interest rate for energy rate was only 1.6 per cent. Senator Farahutllah Babbar of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) also alleged that Chinese banks were charging a higher interest rate on loans from Pakistan for the projects under CPEC.

Senators Daud Khan Achakzai of National Awami Party (NAP) and Usman Khan Kakar of Pashtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party (PMAP) criticized the Nawaz Sharif government for turning CPEC into ‘Punjab-China’ corridor and preferring 20 per cent of the country (Punjab province) over rest of the 80 per cent.

Even the Pakistan army wanted a formal role in the execution and administration of CPEC, which was not accepted by the Nawaz Sharif government. Pakistani army chief General Sharif on several occasions had expressed his concern over politics and delay in CPEC projects and was worried over just and timely implementation of projects as well as involving ‘Punjabi Politics’.

General Sharif was unhappy with civilian government’s handling CPEC to the extent that even he had suggested formation of a full time CPEC Authority to be headed by a Chairman and assisted by director generals, to implement and oversea projects.

However, Nawaz Sharif did not agree with Gen. Sharif and instead constituted (May 1, 2015) a special Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit (PMDU) to monitor projects under CPEC, which is being supervised by his daughter and heir apparent Maryam Nawaz. The only favour army got was appointment of Maj. Gen. (Retd) Dr. Zahir Shah, as Project Director of CPEC.

Meanwhile, General Sharif during his visit to Beijing (May 17, 2016) met Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang and reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to work closely to complete CPEC and discussed security measure for CPEC with his Chinese counterpart and the Chinese military leadership.

Significantly, even Ashraf Mahmood Wathra, Governor of State Bank of Pakistan, which is the central bank of the country, had expressed (December 10, 2015) some apprehensions over CPEC project. He demanded transparency in CPEC projects and disclosed that even he did not know that out of US$ 46 billion, how much was debt, equity and in cash, respectively.

Moreover, Atif Bajwa, CEO of Pakistan’s private leading bank disclosed (March 18, 2016, Karachi) that Pakistani banks were insufficiently capitalized for CPEC projects in the local currency financing for CPEC projects in Pakistan. Some Pakistani economists and International Monitory Fund (IMF) have also expressed apprehensions of Pakistan’s plans to complete 40 per cent of work on infrastructure projects under CPEC in 2017 and the remaining in 2018 worth US$ 11 billion due to certain economic constraints including Pakistan’s tight fiscal space, drop in government and public investments and budget deficits.

China is equally concerned about delay in CPEC projects due to inter provincial politics and Nawaz Sharif government’s clumsy handling of this mega project. Chinese Embassy in Islamabad in an unprecedented diplomatic move in January 2016 took notice of smaller province’s accusing Nawaz Sharif government of favoring the Punjab (Pakistan) province and called upon the politicians of Pakistan to resolve their differences over the CPEC for timely completion of the projects.

Consequently, even Prime Minister had to assure (May 12, 2016, Islamabad) a high level Chinese delegation led by the Member of the Political Bureau of Communist Party of China Zhang Chunxian about Pakistan’s commitment to timely completion of all projects under CPEC. Nawaz Sharif, also informed Zhang Chunxian that he was monitoring the progress on projects under the CPEC on daily basis.

The Ambassador of China to Pakistan, Sun Weidong had delivered (May 1, 2016) a letter from President Xi to Nawaz Sharif and reaffirmed China’s commitment for early execution of all projects under CPEC. Meanwhile, a high level delegation of China State Construction Engineering Corporation led by its President Zheng Xue Xuan visited Pakistan and also met (Lahore, May, 2016) Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and discussed progress on CPEC projects.

China, must have realized that though it has invested a huge investment in Pakistan to achieve its goal of securing direct access to the Arabian Sea and adjunct Asia, this goal may not be easy to be achieved due to Pakistan’s callous attitude towards smaller provinces like Baluchistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Pakistan army’s intentions to extract some profitable projects to please its brass.

 

Massive Kabul Demonstration Against Re-Routing of New Tajik Power Lines

https://i2.wp.com/www.khaama.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/TUTAP-demonstrations-in-Kabul.jpg

Massive Kabul demonstration for TUTAP could turn violent, Jihadi leaders warn

Khaama

A number of the prominent Mujahideen leaders have warned of a possible violence as a mass demonstration is due for Kabul on Monday.

The High Council of Jihad parties gathered in Kabul today to discuss the latest upheavals in the country as well as a mass demonstration due for Kabul against the TUTAP power project.

The Jihadi leaders expressed concerns regarding the protest and called on the organizers of the demonstration to prevent from the rally.

They also called on the government not to take any step towards the implementation of the project until the issue is resolved.

A number of the prominent former Jihadi leaders and religious leaders were among the participants of the meeting which included Sebghatullah Mojadedi, Pir Syed Ahmad Gilani, Mohammad Karim Khalili, Syed Mansoor Naderi, Syed Hussain Anwari, Mawlavi Abdul Hakim Munib, Wahidulah Sabawoon, Qutbuddin Helal, Gen. Din Mohammad Jurat, Zemarialai Ahadi, Haji Din Mohammad and Sarwar Danish.

Earlier, thousands of people organized demonstrations in Bamyan and Kabul provinces to protest against the change of the route of TUTAP, besides several politicians have called on the government to reconsider its decision and ensure justice in implementation of development projects.

However, President Ghani said a commission will be given the task to review the power project, emphasizing that there are different views regarding the route through which the project should be implemented.

Obama Pushing Anti-Russia ABM Installations Along Russian Border

[SEE: DOUBLE THREAT—Massive US/Georgia War Games, New US Anti-Missile System In Romania—SAME DAYInsane Foreign Policy Highlighted By Dueling, Simultaneous US/Russian War Games In Moldova ]

Redzikowo anti missileUS Deputy Secretary of Defence Bob Work (C), Polish Minister of Defence Antoni Macierewicz (3rdR), and other officials at ground breaking ceremony of the ndefence anti-missile shield in Redzikowo military base (AFP Photo/Wojtek Radwanski)

yahoonews-logo

Redzikowo (Poland) (AFP) – Poland on Friday broke ground on the northern section of a US missile defence shield launched in Romania a day earlier, which Russia slammed as a serious security threat despite US assurances to the contrary.

“Although we joined NATO years ago, now we are seeing that NATO is truly entering Poland,” Polish President Andrzej Duda said before ceremony participants took shovels in hand and began digging at the Polish air force base.

Located in Redzikowo, northern Poland, and Deveselu in southern Romania, the two missile interceptor stations are part of NATO’s larger European shield, due to become fully operational by 2018.

US and NATO officials insist the system is intended to counter the threat of short- and medium-range ballistic missiles, particularly from so-called “rogue” states the Middle East like Iran.

But with the Redzikowo station just 250 kilometres (155 miles) from the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad, Moscow views the system as a security threat on its very doorstep.

President Vladimir Putin on Friday warned Washington that Russia will consider measures to “end threats” from US anti-missile systems in Europe but said Moscow would not be engaged in a new arms race.

US Deputy Secretary of Defence Robert Work was on hand Friday for the start of construction on the Aegis Ashore-type missile defence facility in Redzikowo.

It will include 24 land-based SM-3 missiles as well as anti-aircraft systems.

The facility in Poland “is a US contribution to NATO missile defence,” Work said at the ground-breaking ceremonies, adding that “when completed in 2018 it will be capable of defending the central and northern arc of NATO.”

Work also said that “by the (NATO) Warsaw summit in July, we expect alliance leaders to declare initial operational capability for the NATO ballistic missile defence system.”

Launched in 2010, NATO’s anti-missile shield system — based essentially on US technology — involves the progressive deployment of missile interceptors and powerful radar in eastern Europe and Turkey.

NATO and the United States said this spring that they will switch their defence doctrine from assurance to deterrence in Eastern Europe in response to a “resurgent and aggressive Russia” following its 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

The Pentagon said in March it would begin continuous rotations of an additional armoured brigade of about 4,200 troops in Eastern Europe beginning in early 2017.

Spooked by Russian action toward Ukraine, eastern NATO members including the formerly Soviet-ruled Baltic states and Poland have lobbied the alliance to increase its presence in the region to guarantee security.

Pakistan Is ‘Precursor of Today’s Terrorists

Pakistan Is ‘Precursor of Today’s Terrorists’, Says Afghanistan

the quint

 
Afghanistan has blasted Pakistan for spawning global extremist terror by promoting the Taliban, “the precursor of today’s terrorists” rampaging across the world, and called for targeting those responsible for it “within state structures.”

It was the Taliban and their backers who characterised the kind of terror that we witness today from various violent extremist groups. One can easily trace how the Taliban facilitated the creation of al-Qaida, Daish, and their ilk along with the divisive, hateful ideology.

Nazifullah Salarzai, Deputy Permanent Representative, Afghanistan

While avoiding any direct mention of Pakistan, he made clear Islamabad’s role saying that “circles within state structures outside of our frontiers” used ideology and violent behaviour to promote the Taliban in pursuit of their political objectives.

Targeting the promoters and drivers of such policies, who use violence in pursuit of political objectives within the state structures, especially in the security apparatus, is absolutely crucial to deal with the threats of violent extremism.

Nazifullah Salarzai

Wednesday’s Council debate was on “Countering the Narratives and Ideologies of Terrorism.” But Salarzai said in Afghanistan’s case the focus should instead be on the initiation, enabling, and facilitation role of political actors and their use of radical ideology for short term gains.
Nazifullah Salarzai. (Photo: IANS)
Nazifullah Salarzai. (Photo: IANS)

Tracing the antecedents of the current terrorist organisations, he said,

The creation of the Taliban in Afghanistan in 1994 opened the current tragic chapter of terrorism in the world. Before the crafting of the Taliban, terror in its current behavior and form was little known to the world. The Taliban came into existence before groups like aI-Qaida, aI-Shabab, Boko Haram and Daish gained notoriety.

To drive home Pakistan’s role in promoting the Taliban and setting off the chain reaction of global terror, he diplomatically posed a series of rhetorical questions:

So the question is how and why did the Taliban come into being? We need to ask ourselves how did they learn to drive tanks and fly jets overnight, stage conventional warfare, and capitalise on prolonged political conflict in our country? Who trained them? Who provided them with supplies? Who financed them? Who provided them with safe havens and orchestrated their spring offensives year after year?

“Tension between military and civilian control in politics, an inherent
struggle emerging from militarism in society,” was one of the factors behind “circles within state structures” in the neighbour backing the Taliban, Salarzai said.

Another was the regional rivalry between nations coupled with “excessive anxiety and suspicion,” he said.

“Let us not forget,” Salarzai stressed, “that it was under the Taliban that Afghanistan became the jumping board for international terrorism, when thousands of young men received training and logistical support in terrorist camps. This was the precursor of today’s terrorists carrying out deadly attacks in Asia, Europe, US, Middle East, Africa and elsewhere.”

The repeated strong criticism of Islamabad in a global forum brings to the fore Afghanistan’s split with Pakistan after President Ashraf Ghani’s conciliatory approach failed.

When he was elected two years ago, Ghani had hoped its southern neighbour would help rein in the Taliban and bring it to the negotiating tables. But he felt betrayed by Islamabad when it emerged amid preparations for talks with the Taliban that its leader Mohammed Omar had died in Karachi in 2013 and Pakistani leaders had withheld the crucial information from Kabul.

(Arul Louis can be reached at arul.l@ians.in)

US Congress May Make Pak Military Aid Contingent Upon Anti-Haqqani Operation

No military aid to Pakistan without action against Haqqani network: US

daily pakistan

Khawaja Daud

US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel meets Chief of Army Staff General Rahaeel Sharif in Islamabad.–File photo

WASHINGTON (Web Desk) – The United States has said that it is not prepared to support military aid to Pakistan unless the country takes action against the Haqqani network, a guerrilla fighter group in the country’s tribal areas.

“Key members of Congress have been clear they’re not prepared to support US military aid to Pakistan absent some specific actions,” Elizabeth Trudeau, a State Department official, said earlier this week during a news briefing in Washington.

Related: Pak-US ties strained due to F-16s, nukes and Dr Afridi, concedes Sartaj Aziz

Ms Trudeau said the United States had clearly conveyed its views to Pakistan on the activities of the Haqqani network and Islamabad was aware of the steps they needed to take against the militant group.

ffr“Pakistan has said that it will not discriminate against [militant] groups. We could encourage them to continue to live up to that,” she said when asked if the State Department was willing to certify that Pakistan had taken the ‘specific actions’ needed to justify releasing military funds to the country.

The statement coincided with a debate in the Pakistani parliament after Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz conceded that relations with the US had been under stress for the past three months.

Last week, a US congressional panel endorsed a move to block $450 million of military aid to Pakistan for failing to take action against the Haqqani network. And late last month, US senators stopped the administration from using foreign military financing to subsidize sale of eight F-16s to Pakistan.

ffr 

After improving a bit, relations between Pakistan and the US began to deteriorate again early this year when Pakistan’s efforts to persuade Taliban to join Afghan reconciliation talks failed.

Some analysts say that Pakistan does not have enough influence on the Taliban to persuade them to accept a peace deal. They argue that the militants will only join peace talks if they realize that they cannot win the war.

The Americans argue that Pakistan can play an effective role in making the Taliban realize their own vulnerability by taking direct military action against those who are hiding inside its borders.

Who is rattling nuclear club?

Who is rattling nuclear club?

pravda

57959

Source: Pravda.Ru photo archive

“It is time to start disabusing the Russian leadership of the notion that its nuclear saber-rattling is a safe, acceptable or successful tactic,” Steven Pifer, the US diplomat and former Ambassador to Ukraine, claimed.

Vladimir Kozin, Chief Adviser at the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, Professor at the Russian Academy of Military Sciences, Member of the Scientific Board at the National Institute for Global Security Research commented Pravda.Ru on the statement of the American diplomat.

“Mr Pifer is an avid anti-Russian US diplomat. He is constantly speaking against Russia, contrives various horror stories, which are related to Russia as he believes, he is looking for some “nuclear” scarecrow in the other part of the world.

What about nuclear threats, which allegedly exist and are directed against the US and NATO, I’d advise Mr Pifer to look in the mirror. In other words, to look at the American nuclear potential, which is being constantly upgraded by Washington given both strategic and tactical nuclear weapons,” the expert noted.

The US will set to total renewal of its strategic nuclear arsenal in form of traditional triad in 2025 and keep it up till 2031. And since 2018 the US will start essential modernization of tactic nuclear arsenal in form of the high-accuracy smart aerial bomb B61-12, which is capable of settling both tactic and strategic nuclear tasks.

The United States is the only country in the world which has maintained its own nuclear weapons beyond its national territory since 1953, that is in the territory of four European countries, NATO allies (Belgium, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands) as well as the Asian part of Turkey.

“In fact, the US is the only country in the world, which keeps to the doctrine of offensive nuclear deterrence. It envisions delivery of a first nuclear strike against any state except for the US allies. It also has a parallel policy, which is called an “extended nuclear deterrence”. It envisages opening of an American “nuclear umbrella” above NATO allies, as well as countries which just have the US nuclear weapon or do not have it at all.

Beside that, it should be taken into account that the US along with two of its nuclear allies, namely Great Britain and France, united their air defence systems, missile nuclear weapons and common weapons within a single operative mechanism, that is forward-deployed means against Russia,” Vladimir Kozin told Pravda.Ru.

“It should be also kept in mind that Washington has not ratified agreement on total ban on nuclear tests yet. And this important agreement cannot enter into force unless it is ratified.

The Americans are constantly violating treaty on the elimination of intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles, when testing ballistic and cruise missiles, which they banned under creation of global air defence system. Along with Great Britain and France the US deploys dual-capable aircraft in the territory of Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia. Those can carry common and nuclear weapons. The operation is called the Baltic air policing. It has been operating in the territory of these countries 24 hours a day since March 2004.

Thus, Mr Pifer should scrutinize the US nuclear strategy, its nuclear build-up and practice which is carried out today and in the longer term. The Americans will possess nuclear weapons till the end of the current century at least, and all the previous American administrations intended to use it namely to deliver the first nuclear strike.

That is the US which rattles the saber. Namely it advances it closer and closer to the Russian borders. Given all the mentioned above circumstances, namely the US is the nuclear threat number one to the whole world,” the expert told Pravda.Ru.

Insane Foreign Policy Highlighted By Dueling, Simultaneous US/Russian War Games In Moldova

[U.S. Troops In Moldova For Joint Military Exercises]

Moldova: 500 Russian Soldiers Stage Military Exercises

abcnews_logo_v2

Some 500 Russian soldiers and 100 military vehicles stationed in Moldova’s breakaway republic are staging weeks of military exercises.

Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported Friday that the exercises aim to test the capacity of troops in confronting and defeating conventional fighting groups engaged in trying to destabilize the situation in Trans-Dniester and seize strategic objectives.

The pro-Russian region broke away from Moldova in 1990 and a war broke out in 1992, leaving 1,500 dead.

The commander of the Russian troops in Trans-Dniester, Dmitry Zelenkov, was quoted as saying the exercises would last until the end of May.

Russia’s defense ministry says some 1,300 troops are stationed in Trans-Dniester, of which 350 are peacekeepers.

Moldova protested the presence of Russian troops in a Victory Day parade in Trans-Dniester this week.

Afghanistan facing undeclared war, Pak Taliban greatest threat: Ghani

Afghanistan facing undeclared war, Pak Taliban greatest threat: Ghani

hindustan

Prasun Sonwalkar, Hindustan Times, London

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani speaking at the Royal United Services Institute in London on Thursday. (RUSI)

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has described the Pakistani Taliban as the “greatest threat to the region” and said his country is facing an “undeclared war” from Pakistan, which did not accept his offer of peace.

Delivering a well-received lecture on the theme “Fifth Wave of Political Violence” at the Royal United Services Institute on Thursday, Ghani expressed frustration at Afghanistan becoming a battleground for fighters from various countries, but mainly from Pakistan.

“Who fights in my country? Chinese, Chechens, Uzbeks, Tajiks, but the greatest one of course is a huge movement from Pakistan. Then, of course all the rejects from the Arab world are sent on to us,” he said.

Ghani added, “Our fundamental issue is peace with Pakistan. There has been undeclared war against us and that I framed during my visit. I went to the (Pakistan Army’s) GHQ. I invested enormous amount of political capital to make sure the road to peace was the proper road. Our extended hand was not shaken.”

He asked the packed audience, “Can anyone point out a historical precedent or a political framework where people who do not belong to a nation and do not have a quarrel internally (have) such a presence?”

Ghani said, “Who are we posing a threat to? Do you know of a single Afghan who has blown himself up? Why are so many being sent to us? The TTP (Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan) is becoming the greatest threat to the region.”

He rejected the impression that Afghanistan is becoming a safe haven for Al Qaeda but admitted the group is networking. There is also a “displacement effect”, he said, noting the displacement of people caused by the Pakistan Army’s operations along the Durand line, largely in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.

“TTP is a displacement phenomenon due to the operations of the Pakistani army. We have gone after the leadership of TTP multiple times. If Mullah Fazlullah has seven lives, that’s not our fault,” he said.

“But can the state of Pakistan point out a single operation against the Haqqanis or the Taliban leadership? Are their addresses not known? Where do they congregate, where do they meet, do they not meet openly, do they not recruit openly, do they not receive arms openly?”

Mullah Fazlullah is a top Taliban commander who fled to Afghanistan after the army launched a drive against his fighters in northwest Pakistan.

Ghani told the audience his commander of Helmand province went to the Pakistani city of Quetta and told his counterpart, who was the former director of military intelligence: “’Would you like to take a tour, so we can point you to specific locations?’ He kindly refused the offer. We do not differentiate between good and bad terrorists, and consequently we face terrorism.”

Setting out his analysis of the global state of political violence, Ghani said in his region, “unfortunately” states felt inclined to both sponsor “malign state actors or even use some of their own organisations behaving as malign. This is a lose-lose proposition.”

He said, “Anyone who believes that terrorism could be classified as good or bad terrorism needs to rethink the fundamental assumptions. Daesh has taken all the oxygen, but what keeps me awake is Al Qaeda. Is it gone down dark and deep? Is it preparing another surprise? Which is going to be the more enduring phenomena: What is visible or the dog that did not bark?”

According to Ghani, one of the characteristics of the current – or fifth – wave of political violence is the change in networking. “Previously we used to have face-to-face or in small groups. Now the militants have become face-to-faceless or face-to-Facebook”, which makes recruitment “extraordinarily effective” and replication does not depend on central authority.

Ghani went on to say: “When Afghans face battles of survival, we aggregate, congregate and we defeat and we will defeat this wave. Don’t have any doubt about it. Look at our history, but the price is unbelievably high.”

The President calmly responded to noisy interruptions during the event by some demonstrators who protested against the decision to route a major transmission line in the Turkmenistan-Uzbekistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan electricity project through Salang, instead of Bamyan.

 

Trump Warns About American Oligarch, Owner of Amazon and Washington Post

Trump: Bezos using ‘Washington Post’ to protect Amazon monopoly

usa_today_long

Two of our political reporters sit down for an honest conversation about Donald Trump and all the media coverage he’s received.Video provided by Newsy Newslook

One again Donald Trump has kindled the fires of conspiracy.

The soon-to-be Republican nominee for president says Jeff Bezos, the Amazon CEO who owns The Washington Post, is using the paper to attack him and the other political enemies who would force the massive online retailer to pay more in taxes.

Donald Trump told Sean Hannity in an interview Thursday that Bezos is using the Post “like a toy”  and “for power so that  the politicians in Washington don’t tax Amazon like they should be taxed.”

Bezos believes “I would go after him for anti-trust because he has a huge anti-trust problem,” Trump said. In his effort tp keep Trump out of the White House and protect his monopoly, the Amazon founder has assigned more than 20 Washington Post reporters to look at every aspect of his life, Trump said.

“We can’t let him get away with it,” Trump told Hannity.

“Every hour we’re getting calls from reporters from the Washington Post asking ridiculous questions,” Trump said. The stories are “bad” and “wrong” and “in many cases they have no proper information,” he added.

“They’re slopping them together and they’re going to do a book,” he predicted. “And the book is going to be all false stuff because the stories are so wrong.”